Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta leader who oversaw a ruthless campaign of political killings and forced disappearances during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War against dissidents in the mid-1970s, died on Friday in the Marcos Paz Prison in Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
His death was announced by Argentina’s Secretariat for Human Rights.
At least 15,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the junta’s campaign, according to government estimates. Human rights officials say the figure is closer to 30,000.
General Videla rose to power in 1976, when he led a largely bloodless coup against President Isabel Martínez de Perón, widow of Juan Domingo Perón, the founder of the country’s populist movement. Whisked away by helicopter in the dead of night, Mrs. Perón was arrested and charged with corruption, and General Videla, the chief of the armed forces, took over the presidency and established a military junta, promising to restore civilian rule promptly....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 15:57
An MP for the ultra-right Golden Dawn party, Panayiotis Iliopoulos, was ejected from a session in Parliament on Friday after the deputy used derogatory language to revile fellow MPs and cries of "Heil Hitler" were heard in the House.
Originally assumed to have been uttered by far-right MPs, Parliament's minutes revealed that it was actually leftist Syriza MP Christos Pantzas who first cried 'Heil Hitler' in the House, not the far-right MPs.
The upheaval began when Yiannis Dragasakis, a prominent SYRIZA MP and economist who was chairing the session, asked security guards to remove Iliopoulos after the far-right MP remarked that «Mr Alexis is preparing a souped-up question for the prime minister," he said, adding that the leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras was "sleeping the sleep of the just" and dreaming of waking up as prime minister....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 11:40
Nicholas Winton is famous because he did not turn over the page. While many British people tut-tutted when they read about the plight of Jews in central Europe under the Nazis in late 1938 and then turned to the next item of news, he took action. At the time, he was working as a broker at the London Stock Exchange and was about to go on a skiing trip as a Christmas break. Instead, he received an urgent call from a friend to come to Prague, where the latter was visiting a refugee camp. Winton cancelled his holiday, went over and saw the situation facing the Jews in the Nazi-occupied part of Czechoslovakia.
Winton became convinced that a human tragedy was looming – which only immediate action could avert – and focused on the need to rescue the endangered children. However, Britain had already set a limit on the number of children it would let in, which was happening through the Kindertransport programme. So he returned to England to persuade the Home Office to grant additional entry permits and for whom he personally would find sponsors so that they were not a burden on the state....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 11:01
During a joint press conference this afternoon at the White House, President Obama dismissed his critics’ charges that this weeks scandals are of a similar nature to those that tarnished and shortened the tenure of President Richard Nixon during the early 1970s. Shrugging off the accusations, the president indicated the comparisons don’t bother him and that his critics can draw their own conclusions....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 09:12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One by one the teenage singers practice the opening lines to “Boogie Wonderland,” a disco-funk hit from an era before they were born, as dancers work on hip-swinging moves that require perfect choreography.
In another room, young musicians play the same song over and over on guitar, piano and drums, trying to get in rhythm and in tune before the singers and dancers join them to rehearse for an outdoor concert. The music hits a fevered high as the singers and the band mesh to recreate a pop classic....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:26
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish museum officials say that an archaeological dig last year has revealed 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins.
Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:16
Today, what’s hot in cartography! We need to talk about cartography more often here on the A-blog. Let’s just admit it: Most of us could easily spend an entire evening studying maps. And I don’t mean Rand McNally road atlases, though those are great, too. I mean old maps, obscure maps, maps of the dark side of the moon, star charts, nautical charts, topographic maps, lidar maps, maps of Civil War battles, maps of subway systems and sewer lines, and maps of buried treasures that we’d go out and find if we weren’t so busy, you know, looking at maps.
Here’s my news item: Friday a bunch of historians with a cartographic interest will convene at the Library of Congress to discuss the famous maps of Martin Waldseemuller....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:15
When Elias Unger looked out from his front porch on May 31, 1889, he was astounded by what he saw. His house overlooked Pennsylvania’s Lake Conemaugh, a 2½ mile-long man-made body of water formed by one of the world’s largest earthen dams. On that morning, the rain-swollen lake was dangerously close to breaching the wall.
Gathering a work crew, Unger labored frantically to shore up the dam, but it was too late. By afternoon, the 72-foot wall had given way, sending 20 million tons of water surging down the Little Conemaugh River Valley toward Johnstown, Pa., and claiming the lives of 2,209 people.
On a recent visit, I stood near Unger’s porch, looking out over a pastoral valley dotted with trees and the Little Conemaugh gently meandering through it. A railroad track ran along the valley floor. I could see the remainder of the dam: two earthen abutments with a telltale 270-foot gap between them....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:00
The nurse and the soldier may never have met – and eventually married – had it not been for the American government’s mistreatment of black women during World War II.
Elinor Elizabeth Powell was an African-American military nurse. Frederick Albert was a German prisoner of war. Their paths crossed in Arizona in 1944. It was a time when the Army was resisting enlisting black nurses and the relatively small number allowed entry tended to be assigned to the least desirable duties....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:48
Kansas State Board of Education member Steve Roberts came under fire Tuesday for using the “N-word” at last month’s board meeting.
Roberts, R-Overland Park, who used the word during a discussion of African-American history, stood by his choice of words “100 percent.”
But board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Topeka, along with two members of the NAACP, called Roberts’ comments offensive.
Roberts said the word on April 16 in the context of a vote on history standards....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:45
Safely guarded in an air-conditioned vault in Atlanta, Georgia, lies one of western society's most valuable artefacts.
So valuable, that its owner could lose millions if anyone so much as got a look at it.
That's what Coca-Cola would have us believe anyway, claiming the only original copy of the soft drink's top-secret recipe lies underneath its US headquarters.
But one man is threatening to lift this veil of secrecy this week as he claims to publish a copy of the original formula in a new book....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:05
New images of a possible lost city hidden by Honduran rain forests show what might be the building foundations and mounds of Ciudad Blanca, a never-confirmed legendary metropolis.
Archaeologists and filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson announced last year that they had discovered possible ruins in Honduras' Mosquitia region using lidar, or light detection and ranging. Essentially, slow-flying planes send constant laser pulses toward the ground as they pass over the rain forest, imaging the topography below the thick forest canopy.
What the archaeologists found and what the new images reveal are features that could be ancient ruins, including canals, roads, building foundations and terraced agricultural land. The University of Houston archaeologists who led the expedition will reveal their new images and discuss them Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas in Cancun....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 10:48
A statue honoring Confederate soldiers that has stood for more than 100 years outside a Leesburg, Va., courthouse is now at the center of a battle between an attorney and residents.
The statue, which reads “In memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Loudoun County, Va. Erected May 28, 1908,” shows a soldier standing guard with his rifle, WTOP reports.
John Flannery, an attorney who regularly hears cases inside the courthouse, said the statue intimidates clients and should be moved into a museum or graveyard.
"It deters people. It chills them from believing they can get a fair shake in court," Flannery told WTOP....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 10:43
Experts believe that the church is one of the most important archaeological finds in Britain, as it pre-dates both the castle and the Norman Conquest.
Construction workers have also unearthed eight skeletons in the Norman building, believed to be the remains of powerful and wealthy people.
Cecily Spall, an archaeologist on the site, said the find was hugely significant for Lincoln. “The information we can get from this undocumented church is gold dust,” she said.
“Historical documents only tell part of the story for this area so this find is very special.”...
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 07:55
The first German settlers arrived in Texas over 150 years ago and successfully passed on their native language throughout the generations - until now.
German was the main language used in schools, churches and businesses around the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. But two world wars and the resulting drop in the standing of German meant that the fifth and sixth generation of immigrants did not pass it on to their children....
Hans Boas, a linguistic and German professor at the University of Texas, has made it his mission to record as many speakers of German in the Lone Star State as he can before the last generation of Texas Germans passes away.
Mr Boas has recorded 800 hours of interviews with over 400 German descendants in Texas and archived them at the Texas German Dialect Project. He says the dialect, created from various regional German origins and a mix of English, is one of a kind....
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 12:27
Curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture are working with restoration experts to dismantle an antebellum slave cabin on Point of Pines Plantation in Edisto Island, S.C. The cabin was donated to the museum last month by the Edisto Island Historical Society. The two-room cabin, which measures 16 by 20 feet, is believed to be in its original location and will become part of the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition in Washington when the museum opens its doors in 2015.
“Slavery is one of the last great unmentionables in public discourse,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum. “The cabin allows us to humanize slavery, to personalize the life of the enslaved, and frame this story as one that has shaped us all. [Slavery] is not just an African American story.”
The museum had been searching for a slave cabin to display for its permanent collection. The cabin will be displayed prominently in the museum, visible from three levels. Although the cabin will be reconstructed on-site, visitors will not be able to enter or touch the cabin because of its fragility....
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 08:34
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Manuscripts and other materials that offer new perspectives on Thomas Jefferson are being donated to the foundation that owns his estate.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was to formally accept 2,500 manuscripts, works of art and decorative objects at a reception Tuesday afternoon at the Jefferson Library at Monticello. The items donated by Sister Margherita Marchione are related to Jefferson’s longtime friend, Philip Mazzei.
“The materials shed new light from different angles on Jefferson, Monticello, and the whole founding generation,” Jack Robertson, Monticello’s foundation librarian, told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/10UNnTC )....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:21
Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the last Russian Tsar, was already smoking at the age of 15, encouraged by her proud father Nicholas II.
The anecdote about the Grand Duchess, a key figure in the conspiracy theories that followed the gunshot and bayonet murders of the Romanovs, has been revealed by a series of photographs found in a remote museum in the Urals.
Taken in 1916 near Mogilyov, where the Russian military was headquartered during World War I, the photo shows the young girl puffing at the cigarette with every encouragement from her father.
“At the time there was not the same stigma attached to smoking,” wrote the Siberian Times, which described the pictures found in the local history museum of Zlatoust, a small city about 186 miles from Yekaterinburg. It was there that the tsar and his family were slaughtered in 1918 by the Bolsheviks on the orders of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:20
BALTIMORE — FBI and National Archive officials are returning to their rightful owners more than 10,000 important historical documents seized during a massive theft investigation involving a well-known collector of presidential memorabilia.
Barry Landau and assistant Jason Savedoff were caught stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society almost two years ago. An investigation led authorities to a cache of thousands of stolen documents in Landau’s New York City apartment, including some containing a who’s who of American and international history. Both men pleaded guilty to their crimes and are serving prison sentences.
Now, officials are returning the documents to 24 identified victims nationwide, including university libraries and historical societies in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. On Monday, they returned 21 items to the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:01
Tristram Hunt, a Labour education spokesman and historian, has attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove over his use of evidence.
It follows a Freedom of Information request showing Mr Gove's claim about children's lack of historical knowledge had been based on a UKTV Gold survey.
Mr Gove had been setting out the need to raise standards in history.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "There is plenty of other evidence to support this argument."
Mr Hunt, taking up last week's attack by the education secretary on the use of Mr Men characters in teaching history, accused Mr Gove of being "Mr Sloppy"....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:48
A massacre of 50 Maori on Wellington's south coast has been brought to light thanks to a lucky Google search.
Historian Elsdon Best wrote a comprehensive history of Wellington Maori, The Land of Tara and They Who Settled It, in about 1919.
However, an incident in which northern Maori swept into Wellington and killed 50 Ngati Ira iwi at Tarakena Bay about 1820 came to his attention only after his book was published.
He told fellow historian Henry Christie, who wrote about it in 1931. Miramar military historian Allan Jenkins came across Christie's record of the massacre about 30 years ago but, despite numerous searches, was unable to find it again....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:40
TOKYO (AP) — An outspoken nationalist mayor said the Japanese military's forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to "maintain discipline" in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.
The comments made Monday are already raising ire in neighboring countries that bore the brunt of Japan's wartime aggression and have long complained that Japan has failed to fully atone for wartime atrocities.
Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also said that U.S. troops currently based in southern Japan should patronize the local sex industry more to help reduce rapes and other assaults....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:25
A study of remains from Central Europe suggests the foundations of the modern gene pool were laid down between 4,000 and 2,000 BC - in Neolithic times.
These changes were likely brought about by the rapid growth and movement of some populations.
The work by an international team is published in Nature Communications.
Decades of study of the DNA patterns of modern Europeans suggests two major events in prehistory significantly affected the continent's genetic landscape: its initial peopling by hunter-gatherers in Palaeolithic times (35,000 years ago) and a wave of migration by Near Eastern farmers some 6,000 years ago. (in the early Neolithic)...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:13
Madrid, May 7 (EFE).- Eleven of the 13 Neanderthals who lived in northern Spain's El Sidron cave were right-handed, indicating that these cousins of modern humans had a brain structure similar to that of Homo sapiens, a study published in Plos One magazine said.
Researchers, among them members of Spain's CSIC research council, analyzed grooves in more than 60 Neanderthal dental pieces.
Manual laterality "reflects specialized organization of the brain, so its evolutionary origin has been the subject of research for decades," project director Antonio Rosas said....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:06
Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.
Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.
The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia. [In Photos: 14th-Century 'Black Death' Graveyard]....
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 14:11
In the popular imagination, it is a conflict associated with foreign battlefields and, above all, the muddy trenches of the Western Front.
But a major new project aims to identify and record thousands of remaining traces of the First World War on the landscape of the British Isles.
The research is expected to run for the four years of the centenary of the conflict, 2014-2018, and will cover sites such as factories, camps, fortifications, airstrips and dockyards, as well as locations that were bombarded by German ships and aircraft....
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 14:09
RICHMOND, Va. — Preservation Virginia’s annual most endangered list includes Arlington National Cemetery, a network of rural schools that aimed to improve educational opportunities for young black students in rural areas, and Manassas Battlefield.
The private, non-profit preservation group on Monday identified eight places, buildings and sites that it concludes face “imminent or sustained” threats, even to the point of their survival in some cases. The threats include planned roads, neglect or development....
— Arlington National Cemetery, threatened by the 27-acre Millennium Project expansion. It would disrupt the cemetery’s surroundings and destroy a 12-acre section of Arlington House Woods, as well as its old-growth hardwoods and a historic boundary wall.
— Rosenwalds Schools, a rural school building program by Julius Rosenwald to provide a better public education to African-American students in the segregated South. A total 381 of the schools were built in Virginia. They are now threatened with demolition and neglect....
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 14:00
Caked in dust and full of turn-of-the century treasures, this Paris apartment is like going back in time.
Having lain untouched for seven decades the abandoned home was discovered three years ago after its owner died aged 91.
The woman who owned the flat, a Mrs De Florian, had fled for the south of France before the outbreak of the Second World War.
She never returned and in the 70 years since, it looks like no-one had set foot inside....
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:03
GUATEMALA CITY — A Guatemalan court on Friday found Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator who ruled Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Judge Yasmín Barrios sentenced General Ríos Montt, 86, to 80 years in prison. His co-defendant, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, who served as the director of intelligence under the general, was acquitted of the same two charges.
“We are completely convinced of the intent to destroy the Ixil ethnic group,” Judge Barrios said as she read the hourlong summary of the ruling by the three-judge panel. Over five weeks, the tribunal heard more than 100 witnesses, including psychologists, military experts and Maya Ixil Indian survivors who told how General Ríos Montt’s soldiers had killed their families and wiped out their villages....
Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 23:21
After 51 years educating and entertaining Gettysburg visitors, the American Civil War Wax Museum is up for sale.
"The owners are looking to retire," said Tammy Myers, general manager of the museum. It has always been a family business and the owners' children are not interested in operating it, she added, so they are ready to sell.
The 12,450-square-foot property located at 297 Steinwehr Av. is currently on the market for $1,695,000, acording to a listing by Prudential Bob Yost-Sites Homesale. As to whether or not the museum will remain open once it is sold, that will depend on the buyers, Myers said....
Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 14:32
In contracting tender documents, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has provided more details about the kind of history it will focus on once it is transformed, at the edict of the Conservative government, to the new Canadian Museum of History.
The lengthy request for tender (see below) posted on the MERX contracting site this week sketched out a storyline of “broad topics and more focused communication intentions” that are grouped into themes and time periods in the Canadian History Hall.
There is little evidence in the more detailed descriptions to support concerns that the mandated refocusing of the museum would effectively rewrite Canadian history to emphasize certain values — the military, for example — or, perhaps, embellish the fathers of Canadian conservativism....
Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 13:54
The "Great East Coast Cicada Sex Invasion of 2013" is upon us.
After 17 years of feeding and living under the earth's surface, billions of "Brood II" cicadas will emerge this summer between Connecticut and Georgia, swarming in thick, forbidding billows of shed exoskeletons and raucous insect lovemaking. (To get an idea of what the cicada mating call sounds like, click here for audio.)
For all their physical creepiness and loud public sex orgies, the (actually completely harmless) bugs have a rich cultural history in the United States. Bob Dylan wrote a song about the cicadas, for instance. But cicadas also have a rich political history in this country. Here are their greatest hits:
1. Ronald Reagan name-checks the cicada: In June 1987, Greatest President in American History Ronald Reagan delivered one of his weekly radio addresses on the budget plan for fiscal year 1988. In his prepared statement, he used the cicada in a simile to bash Democratic budget proposals....
Saturday, May 11, 2013 - 13:52
A huge quarry, along with tools and a key, used by workers some 2,000 years ago have been discovered during an excavation in Jerusalem prior to the paving of a highway, the Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) announced.
The first-century quarry, which fits into the Second Temple Period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70), would've held the huge stones used in the construction of the city's ancient buildings, the researchers noted.
Archaeologists also uncovered pick axes and wedges among other artifacts at the site in the modern-day Ramat Shlomo Quarter, a neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem....
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 11:27
ARLINGTON, Va. — For more than 100 years, the cremated remains of two brothers — Civil War soldiers from Indiana — sat on a funeral home shelf, unclaimed and largely forgotten.
On Thursday, their remains were given a final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery, which dedicated a new columbarium court designed to hold the cremated remains of more than 20,000 eligible service members and family.
It is the ninth columbarium court at Arlington, where roughly 400,000 are interred.
The first six remains to be interred at the court were recovered by the Missing In America Project, an organization based in Grants Pass, Ore., that scours funeral homes across the country to recover remains of veterans that have gone unclaimed....
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 11:23
The education secretary, Michael Gove, has attacked a "culture of low expectations" in English schools, criticising the use of Mr Men characters in teaching 15 and 16-year-olds about Hitler.
Too many teachers were treating "young people on the verge of university study as though they have the attention span of infants," Gove said. He said worksheets, extracts and mind maps had replaced whole books, sources and conversation in history and other subject lessons.
"As long as there are people in education making excuses for failure, cursing future generations with a culture of low expectations, denying children access to the best that has been thought and written, because Nemo and the Mr Men are more relevant, the battle needs to be joined," Gove said.
Gove told the Brighton College education conference: "I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves' work [the author of the Mr Men series], but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Antisemitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat....
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 11:20
During the Reagan Revolution, the Heritage Foundation was seen as the soul of the free market conservative revival. As senior vice president for research at the think tank from 1981 through 1992, Burton Pines was in charge of its intellectual output — “If Heritage were General Motors, I ran the factory,” he says — but as Heritage comes under fire this week for a controversial immigration report, Pines says the storied organization has lost its way.
“It’s a new Heritage and it’s one that’s not standing by the principles of Ronald Reagan,” he told Salon Thursday. “I’m puzzled why they came out with this study and I’m more puzzled why they seem to be against immigration.”
The foundation’s new report, which estimates that immigration reform will cost taxpayers $6 trillion, has touched off a civil war on the right....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 17:28
Of all the commemorations marking this month’s 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s most famous bombing raid, it is perhaps the most poignant.
A new plaque has been unveiled in a German field where one of the Dambuster bombers crashed, with the loss of all seven men on-board.
The memorial has been installed by a local historian who located the crash site as part of his research into the fate of the aircraft, AJ-E....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:52
Guido Westerwelle today (MON) added Germany's voice to mounting concerns over extreme nationalism in Hungary and EU criticism that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's strong government is eroding the checks and balances common to European democracies.
"We have questions and we have some doubts," Mr Westerwelle told Bild newspaper before addressing a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest.
"The European Commission and the Council of Europe have not concealed their criticism of the Hungarian government. It must now be spoken about openly and honestly."...
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:49
...The year was 1946. Winston Churchill stood in a small Midwestern college gymnasium in Fulton, Missouri, just a few miles to the west of St Louis. He was accompanied by President Harry Truman and had been driven to the speech by the grandfather of one of my co-workers. And his speech, later to be called The Iron Curtain Speech, would resonate from the halls of Westminster College, and be heard throughout the world.
Today, those echoes are still being heard, and are being amplified in the US by the National Churchill Museum, a museum recognised by the US Congress as "America's National Churchill Museum" and built on the site of that 1946 speech. The museum, staff, volunteers and supporters are dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the life, times, and distinguished career of Sir Winston Churchill, and inspiring current and future leaders by his example of resilience, determination and resolution.
And it was the museum that drew leaders from across the Midwest, elected officials and representatives of Her Majesty's Government to St Louis to honour Sir Winston and to present the Churchill Leadership Medal to former US ambassador, Stephen Brauer.
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:47
On a hot Provencal day in July 1890, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo – blocking out, as he often did, space for a drawing. In it a black cat stealthily circles a dead painter’s garden. The portentous ink was set: four days later van Gogh had shot himself. Now a collection of papers, for sale at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday 8 May, shows that many of the artist’s contemporaries shared his epistolary flair.
Letters by Manet, Picasso, Renoir, Signac, Matisse, Chagall and Gauguin are composed not only of the articulated preoccupations of the artist (Picasso and Renoir are fixated on culinary pursuits) but also their visual riffs. Snapshot compositions sketched on the fly and odd motifs punctuate these sheets.
The letters date from 1880, with Manet in genial mood, to 1950 as Matisse settles into the snug embers of his sunset years. The form is played into a wonderful hybrid: part picture, part message. In pencil and pen, crayon and watercolour, major and minor moments are captured. Manet adds a snail to a shopping list; a weary Paul Gauguin heads a letter to the owner of his 1894 Tahitian oil, Day of the God, with a cartoon of the work. He includes an apology. “Excuse the barbarism of this little picture. Certain dispositions of my spirit are probably the cause.”...
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:42
The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency in what would be the first compensation settlement resulting from official crimes committed under imperial rule.
In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts.
Those defeats followed the discovery of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office (FCO) had kept hidden for decades, and which shed new and stark light on the dying days of British rule, not only in Kenya but around the empire. In the case of the Mau Mau conflict, the secret papers showed that senior colonial officials authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established during the bloody conflict, and that ministers and officials in London were aware of a brutal detention regime in which men and women were tortured and killed....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:24
A controversial Nazi-themed production of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser has been cancelled after it caused some audience members to seek medical help and prompted others to walk out in anger.
The Rheinoper in Düsseldorf said it was in a state of shock after being deluged with complaints by members of the public who called the opera tasteless and unnecessarily provocative.
The production, which opened last Saturday and was expected to be one of the highlights of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Wagner's birth later this month, has a Nazi storyline, and includes scenes of people dying in gas chambers, being shot and raped, and of members of a family having their heads shaved before their execution....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 10:11
The House of Commons heritage committee has launched a study of how history is preserved in federal, provincial and municipal programs, and how easily Canadians can access historical information.
However, it backed down from a plan to examine how history is taught in schools after a barrage of complaints from the opposition, which had accused the government of intruding on provincial jurisdiction, which includes school curriculum development, and of wanting to revise history in its own image.
The committee began hearing from witnesses for its history study on Monday....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 09:12
A virtual newspaper bringing the most momentous period of Irish history to life has gone live.
Ten years of news from 1913 will be published by Century Ireland every fortnight over the next decade in real-time.
Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said the digitalised material will catalogue the major events that shaped modern Ireland from the Home Rule debate to the Civil War in a balanced and fair way....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 09:05
WASHINGTON, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye Wednesday urged Japan to face history honestly for the good of Northeast Asia.
"Those who are blind to the past cannot see the future," Park said in an address to the U.S. Congress, a day after meeting with President Barack Obama.
"This is obviously a problem for here and now. But the larger issue is about tomorrow," she said, adding "for where there is failure to acknowledge honestly what happened yesterday, there can be no tomorrow."...
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 09:03
TOKYO — Japan’s conservative government will abide by official apologies that the country’s leaders made two decades ago to the victims of World War II in Asia, top officials said Tuesday, backing away from earlier suggestions that the government might try to revise or even repudiate the apologies.
Japan formally apologized in 1993 to the women who were forced into wartime brothels for Japanese soldiers, and in 1995 to nations that suffered from Japanese aggression during the war. Both apologies rankled Japanese ultranationalists, and there were concerns that the hawkish current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, would try to appeal to them by whitewashing Japan’s wartime atrocities, a step that would probably infuriate Japan’s neighbors.
The United States shared those concerns, and it urged the Abe government to show restraint on historical issues so that Japan would not further isolate itself diplomatically in the region....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 08:54
After a complicated 20-year effort to save a redbrick mill in North Carolina that was once considered the largest in the world for textiles and that played a significant role in the South’s textile history, the plant is finally moving toward a new life as a multiuse complex.
The Loray Mill, which for decades produced fabric for car tires, last month began a $40 million conversion project that will create 190 apartments in its six stories, as well as several floors of shops and restaurants. The mill, which was the site of an famous labor strike in the 1920s, is in the city of Gastonia, a former industrial hub outside of Charlotte.
To the delight of preservationists, the development team of JBS Ventures, of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., and Camden Management Partners, of Atlanta, will retain much of the original 600,000-square-feet structure of the complex. This first phase of the redevelopment will reinvent about 450,000 square feet of the mill, including the main section, which dates to 1902....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 08:53
ATLANTA — Inside Craig Ivey’s travel bag are objects reminiscent of the Middle Ages.
He has a steel, rounded shield; a five-sided, wooden shield; a red, white and blue surcoat; a protective vest; a wraparound helmet, pockmarked with dents; steel pads to hide his forearms, knees, legs and hands; and a blunt-edged sword designed to inflict pain but not cut. His collection cost about $4,000.
Ivey, a fitness trainer in Atlanta, will use all 60 pounds of the equipment Thursday at an outdoor arena in Aigues-Mortes, in the south of France. He will compete in his first Battle of the Nations, a modern-day, medieval-like combat involving national teams of fighters....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 08:52
NEWARK, N.J. — Carol Wilkins leaned over the side of her father’s wheelchair and handed him the small red box, a heart-shaped cutout revealing its contents: a weathered, bent silver dog tag.
“Oh, Daddy, look,” Wilkins exclaimed as her 90-year-old father opened it, his eyes beaming and smile wide. “They’re back.”
Sixty-nine years after losing his dog tag on the battlefields of southern France, Willie Wilkins reclaimed it Wednesday after a trans-Atlantic effort to return it to him. It started more than a decade ago in a French backyard and ended with a surprise ceremony in Newark City Hall....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 08:46
A Chicago alderman introduced an ordinance Wednesday that would allow museums to display unloaded firearms for historical purposes.
According to DNA Info Chicago, city museums are currently prohibited from displaying unloaded firearms....
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 08:30