2005 3-June to JulyBreaking News Archives
Week of 7-25-05 FRIDAY
Scholar Sees Rowhouses as Slave Haven : A community push to save seven downtown Brooklyn rowhouses that may have been Underground Railroad safehouses has gained last-minute support. In a stunning reversal, historian A.J. Williams-Myers, a member of an academic panel hired by the city to review a study of the homes, visited the Duffield St. buildings on Tuesday - and now believes runaway slaves were hidden in basements of some of the homes."I saw what indeed may have been the very secreted, below-ground facilities used by those in search of freedom," Williams-Myers wrote in an E-mail obtained by the Daily News. A professor of black history at SUNY New Paltz, Williams-Myers contradicted preliminary findings of a city-sponsored study done by the consulting firm AKRF, Inc.
How Kremlin Strove to Block Dr. Zhivago : The lengths to which the Soviet authorities were ready to go in their efforts to block publication of Boris Pasternak's epic novel about 20th-century Russia, Doctor Zhivago, was revealed by a letter published yesterday. After the book was rejected by the authorities, Pasternak passed his manuscript to the leftwing Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who had it translated and printed in the west. It appeared in November 1957. But since then, literary historians have speculated on the author's behaviour between delivery and publication. In messages to those involved in what was to be the literary coup of the century, Pasternak called for publication to be suspended. It turns out he was pressured by security services in the USSR to urge that his book not be published. In a just-published letter to his translator he made his true feelings known:"I wrote the novel to be published and read. That remains my only wish."
News: In his first public remarks since taking on the job of directing the planning of the future National Museum of African American History and Culture, Lonnie Bunch, a historian and former president of the Chicago Historical Society, said he had been wrestling with several approaches to the museum's mission. Most important, he said, the museum must combat the natural tendency not to dwell on negative experiences such as slavery."This desire to omit -- to forget disappointments, moments of evil and great missteps -- is both natural and instructive. It is often the essence of African American culture that is forgotten or downplayed," said Bunch.
US Immigration/The Fort That Let Outsiders In: The government has been keeping tabs on immigrants since 1820, and Castle Garden at the Battery, originally built to defend New York from foreigners, was the city's first official debarkation point. It was the gateway for immigrants until 1890, when federal officials took over responsibility for the newcomers, who were processed first at the nearby Barge Office and, starting in 1892, on Ellis Island. Ellis Island may claim more of the ancestral spotlight, but Castle Garden was no slouch. More than one in six native-born Americans are descendants of the eight million immigrants who entered the United States through Castle Garden in Lower Manhattan beginning 150 years ago next Monday. A nonprofit group formed to rebuild the 23-acre park will begin a free Web site for scholarly and genealogical research, CastleGarden.org, which includes a database of more than 10 million of the 12 million immigrants who arrived at the Port of New York from 1820 to 1892.
The"N" Word: Stephen Hagan,an Aboriginal researcher at Australia's University of Southern Queensland, battles to strip a local stadium of a derogatory name. The critical moment came when Mr. Hagan, an accomplished rugby player in his schoolboy days, took his family to a match at the Toowoomba Sports Ground, the town's rugby-league headquarters. He was shocked to see that the section of the stadium in which he and his family were sitting was blazoned with large letters reading"E.S. 'Nigger' Brown Stand." The stand was named in 1960 to honor a local player from the early 1920s, the first from the region to represent Australia, who went on to become a well-respected businessman and alderman on the Toowoomba City Council. Mr. Hagan decided that the word"nigger" was something that his children, and the community at large, should not see in such a public context.
Alexis de Tocqueville Anniversary: At the time of Tocqueville's birth, 200 years ago this week, hardly anybody thought that democracy could ever exist, much less thrive, in Europe without frequent violence and revolution. Only the extraordinary geographical and historical conditions of the Americans allowed them, and only them, to benefit from free, pluralistic politics and democratic institutions. That was the general opinion of those who visited America.
Truman and the Atomic Bomb: The sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima seems to be shaping up as a subdued affair--though not for any lack of significance. A survey of news editors in 1999 ranked the dropping of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, first among the top one hundred stories of the twentieth century. And any thoughtful list of controversies in American history would place it near the top again. According to an article written by Richard B. Frank for the Weekly Standard, Truman was justified in using the bomb: the Japanese did not see their situation as catastrophically hopeless. They were not seeking to surrender, but pursuing a negotiated end to the war that preserved the old order in Japan, not just a figurehead emperor. Finally, thanks to radio intelligence, American leaders, far from knowing that peace was at hand, understood--as one analytical piece in the"Magic" Far East Summary stated in July 1945, after a review of both the military and diplomatic intercepts--that"until the Japanese leaders realize that an invasion can not be repelled, there is little likelihood that they will accept any peace terms satisfactory to the Allies." This cannot be improved upon as a succinct and accurate summary of the military and diplomatic realities of the summer of 1945.
Mormon Trek Across the West: The wagon wheel ruts are still visible in places. Even after 150 years, they mark the toil and struggles of thousands of pioneers who settled the West. And while they are not near modern highways, these parallel grooves in the sand and clay are again attracting tens of thousands of pioneers from around the world who seek to relive the experiences of their ancestors. But in a twist of history, the new trekkers -- mostly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- are making their own tracks and endangering parts of the original trail.
Reporting the Last IRA 'Stand Down': The last time the IRA stood down its"volunteers" was in 1962 when it called an end to its border campaign. A statement released to the media on 26 February 1962 went as follows:"The leadership of the resistance movement has ordered the termination of the campaign of resistance to British occupation launched on December 12th, 1956. So how was the ending of this IRA campaign reported? Fyffe Robertson of the BBC's Tonight programme presented a special report in 1962 on the ending of the campaign, during which he heard from two IRA men. Both predicted that the campaign of violence would cntinue and said that it was the only way to achieve the group's goals. The words of both men were to be proved correct in that the IRA would re-emerge in the 1970s as the armed provisional movement for the bloodiest part of its war yet.
Iraqi Antiquities: Donny George, Director General of museums in Iraq, has clearly stated that they will refuse access to the National Museum in Baghdad to anyone who encourages the illegal trade in antiquities through purchasing, appraising or publishing; Grand Ayatollah el-Sistani has declared looting un-Islamic but radical cleric Muqtada el-Sadr has issued a counter-fatwa to the effect that looting of antiquities is allowed as long as its proceeds benefit the fight against the infidels.
Louvre Gets $20 Million for New Islamic Wing: In the largest gift ever to the world's largest museum, a Saudi prince agreed on Tuesday to donate $20 million to the construction of a wing for the Louvre's vast collection of Islamic art. With considerable fanfare, the prince, Walid bin Talal, signed a donation agreement at the foot of the grand marble staircase leading to the Louvre's"Winged Victory" statue, with the French culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and the president of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette, looking on. The gift reflects France's complex relations with the Islamic world and a widening belief here that after 9/11, an increased appreciation of Islamic art can help bridge a cultural divide.
Playola Scandal ... A Broken Record: The music industry's use of bribes to buy exposure for songs actually long predates broadcasting and was one of the defining traits of the New York-centered empire of melody known as Tin Pan Alley. To reach as many ears as possible, music publishers in the late 19th century would ply itinerant vaudeville performers with gifts to carry their most promising melodies across the country by rail. If audiences liked what they heard, the publishers would profit from the sale of copyrighted sheet music. Star singers stood to make as much from pay-for-play as they did from their theatrical salaries; even essentially nonmusical acts like jugglers and dancers that had musical accompaniment enjoyed some trickle-down benefit from the system. So did the shills who were paid to sit in the cheap seats and applaud for or sing along with a given song.
US Still Investigating Iran Leader: The US says it has concluded that Iran's president-elect was a leader of the group behind the 1979 hostage crisis at its embassy in Tehran. But it says it is unsure whether Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actively took part and is still looking into the matter. Former hostages say they recognise Mr Ahmadinejad, but Iranian veterans of the stand-off deny he was involved. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters"we are still looking into whether or not he was actually one of the hostage-takers. That's something we continue to look into." He added:"I don't think it's a surprise to anyone, given the nature of the regime in Iran, that he might have been involved in this kind of activity."
Splits Dominate US Union History: The split in the US trade union movement that took place this week in Chicago at its most recent convention is only the latest in a series of divisions that have weakened the movement over the last century. The current split echoes many other divisions in US trade union history. And, along with a more hostile attitude towards unions by both government and employers, such divisions go a long way to explain the weakness of the US trade union movement today.
More Japanese Schools Adopt Controversial History Textbook: ChinaView.com reports:"The Tokyo metropolitan board of education Thursday adopted a disputed junior high school textbook on Japanese history for use at four middle schools offering six-year programs and 19 schools for disabled children from the next academic year beginning in April 2006. The decision will expand the number of Tokyo metropolitan government-run schools that use the textbook from one to four six-year schools and from two to 19 disabled-children schools. The textbook distorts the history of Japan's aggression war against its Asian neighbors and whitewashes Japanese aggressors' atrocities on Asian people." (HNN reader Earl Kinmonth, a teacher at Taisho University, commenting on this news story, told HNN:"The article is highly misleading. The school board in question has jurisdiction over a tiny fraction of all public schools in Tokyo (and no jurisdiction over the very large number of private schools in the capital). Further, just because a school board has adopted a given text, this does not mean teachers will actually use it in the classroom. Japan is not a monolithic state like Communist China. There is no 'party line' and classroom teachers can and often do ignore official directives.")
Acadian Memorial Unveiled in Nova Scotia: A new monument commemorating the 250th anniversary of the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia has been unveiled. It was on July 28, 1755, that the Council of Nova Scotia, as directed by Britain, issued an order on to deport the Acadians from their settlements. The order resulted in 10,000 men, women and children being forcibly removed from their homes and their land, which they'd farmed for a century, and shipped to far-flung lands around the world. Their homes were torched and their land given to settlers loyal to the British Crown. At least 5,000 died of disease or deprivation or in shipwrecks. The majority ended up in Europe, the New England states and Louisiana, only to return after 1763, on the condition that they swore allegiance to the British Crown and settled in small groups.
Nepalese Book Triggers Debate Over Nepal's History: Lain Singh Bangdel’s new book on ‘The Statue of Jay Verma and Verma Dynasty in Nepal’, has triggered a new debate on Nepalese history. Bangdel has claimed that the Verma dynasty had ruled Nepal in the 5th century before the Lichchavi period. Historical records put the Lichchavis as the ruler after the Kirant’s and there is no mention of the Verma dynasty ruling the country. Bangdel has based his claim on a 9” x 7” statue found in Maligaon, which he claimed to belong to Jay Verma. The book has triggered a new debate among historians and scholars prompting them to trace the missing period, if there was one.
South African Designers Keep History Alive Through Fashion: South African designers have launched a T-shirt range bearing the iconic image of a child gunned down by apartheid police to mark the nation's triumph over white rule and keep history alive through fashion. The designers behind the Hector Pieterson label -- named after one of the first victims in the 1976 Soweto uprisings -- hope the range of urban streetwear will teach a new generation about the struggle that defined their parents' lives. Thirteen-year-old Pieterson was among the first killed when police fired on black youths protesting the forced teaching of Afrikaans in schools. By the end of the shooting 500 people were dead and a new wave of resistance against apartheid was born.
Week of 7-25-05 THURSDAY
WSJ Editorial Says the White House Weakened the Case for Executive Privilege: In releasing the papers from Judge Roberts's days on the Attorney General's staff (1981-82) and in the White House Counsel's office (1982-86), the White House acted unilaterally, without waiting for a formal request from the Senate Judiciary Committee. We can understand making public the earlier documents, which had been cleared for release by the Clinton Administration in 1998. But the decision to release the White House documents is harder to justify. A President needs confidential advice from his White House lawyers as much as he needs it from his Justice Department. The Reagan White House released some documents during Chief Justice William Rehnquist's confirmation in 1986 relating to his previous work at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. That was in response to a narrow request for information and related primarily to questions involving appropriate conduct of office; the documents were not sought for the purpose of determining judicial philosophy and went only to the Judiciary Committee (though were later leaked to the press). Similarly, in the case of former Solicitor General Robert Bork, who was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, some documents pertaining to questions involving appropriate conduct of office were released to Judiciary.
Space Race/How did Yuri die?: The first man in space gave his name to countless Russian streets and schools. But his death in 1968 fuelled just as many conspiracy theories - and now a new petition demands that the case be reopened. Gagarin was just 27 years old when he grabbed the headlines around the world by becoming the first man in outer space in 1961. Only one thing clouds the golden memory of Russia's feted cosmonaut and that is how he died. Mystery continues to shroud the fate of the first man in space: almost 40 years after his tragically premature death, nobody really knows how and why Gagarin died. It is a riddle that continues to fascinate Russians in the same way that Americans still puzzle over who shot John F Kennedy and fans of Diana, Princess of Wales, continue to speculate about what caused the car crash that killed her.
What Does It Mean to be British?: After the years of being embarrassed about our past, people want to sing Land of Hope and Glory Anthony Beevor, author of Stalingrad, says:"Britishness is a fairly recent phenomenon but, if it stands for anything, it's a sense of fair play that goes back to the Napoleonic War. There has never been a doctrine of Britishness. Unlike the French, we are too embarrassed to talk about ourselves seriously. If we do, it is as a parody - dinner jackets and Oxford marmalade." Andrew Roberts, author of a biography of Lord Salisbury, says that Britishness is easy to define."We have a profoundly different history to the rest of the world - partly because of our geographical insularity, partly because we are the most constitutionally mature. We were the first to have an industrial revolution and we don't lose wars. We once covered one quarter of the world. Of course, we are unique - we shouldn't be ashamed about our past." Tristram Hunt disagrees."The Conservatives have been allowed to define Britishness because the Left got too sucked up in multi-culturalism. But Britishness shouldn't be about the Empire - it's about freedom of speech, public dissent, and institutions like the Open University."
Roman 'Motorway' Secrets Unveiled: ARCHAEOLOGISTS excavating along the ancient Via Egnatia in Greece are revealing the secrets of the ancient Romans’ equivalent of an Interstate highway. Stretching 535 miles across modern-day Albania, Macedonia and Greece, the stone-paved road made the going easy for charioteers, soldiers and other travellers. It was up to 30 feet wide in places and was dotted with safety features, inns and service stations. “This was a busy road, and the Romans managed to make it completely functional,” archaeologist Polyxeni Tsatsopoulou told The Associated Press. Built between 146 and 120 B.C. the highway ran from the Adriatic coast in what is now Albania to modern Turkey, giving Rome quick access to the eastern provinces of its empire.
John Roberts/An Advocate for the Right: The early 1980's were a heady time for conservatives in Washington.Ronald Reagan was president, and after years on the outside, some of the strongest voices in the conservative movement - men like Edwin Meese III, James G. Watt, William Bradford Reynolds and Theodore B. Olson - were in high positions in the government and were determined to reverse what they believed to be years of liberal policies in areas like civil rights, environmental protection, criminal law and immigration. John G. Roberts, a young lawyer in the Justice Department in 1981 and 1982 and on the White House counsel's staff from 1982 to 1986, held positions too junior for him to set policy in those days. But his internal memorandums, some of which have become public in recent days, reveal a philosophy every bit as conservative as that of the policy makers on the front lines of the Reagan revolution and give more definin recent days, reveal a philosophy every bit as conservative as that of the policy makers on the front lines of the Reagan revolution and give more definition to his image than was apparent in the first days after President Bush picked him to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court.
Week of 7-25-05 WEDNESDAY
Civil Rights Cases: Federal prosecutors and local authorities are scheduled to meet this week in Jackson to discuss the May 2, 1964, Ku Klux Klan killings of 19-year-olds Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee in Franklin County. Authorities will also discuss the Feb. 27, 1967, killing of 37-year-old Wharlest Jackson, who was driving home when a bomb planted under his truck exploded.U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, who scheduled the meeting for Friday, has said the time is right to pursue justice.
Documents Show Roberts Influence In Reagan Era: Newly released documents show that John G. Roberts Jr. was a significant backstage player in the legal policy debates of the early Reagan administration, confidently debating older Justice Department officials and supplying them with arguments and information that they used to wage a bureaucratic struggle for the president's agenda. Roberts presented a defense of bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases; he argued for a narrow interpretation of Title IX, the landmark law that bars sex discrimination in intercollegiate athletic programs; and he even counseled his boss on how to tell the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow that the administration was cutting off federal funding for the Atlanta center that bears his name.
Black Stereotypes: The Mexzican postage stamp featuring the image of"Memin Pinguin" has created the latest furor over Jim Crow-era images of blacks abroad. Such derogatory images remain alive in the United States and many other countries. Copies of"Little Black Sambo" flew off the shelves of large bookstores in Tokyo this year."Darkie Tooth Paste" was a popular brand in Asia until a few years ago. Golliwog dolls of blacks with wide eyes and red lips are popular among the British on eBay, and"Black Pete" is Santa's sidekick during Christmas in Holland. In the United States, some antiques fairs specialize in black memorabilia, much of it from segregation days.
Hiroshima Anniversary: Hiroshima today is a pleasant, prosperous city of 1.1 million people, with everyday concerns that are mostly no different from those of any other city in the developed world. One day in mid-July, Hiroshima's mayor, the M.I.T.-educated, English-speaking Tadatoshi Akiba, confesses that he is consumed at the moment with efforts to build a new baseball stadium for the city's baseball team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. But the Bomb is the backdrop for everything that has been built here in the past six decades, from stadiums to automobile factories to shipyards. A city wiped off the map had to be rebuilt in every sense—not just physically but emotionally and psychologically as well. To some, Hiroshima's adoption of peace as its mantra is seen as an example of the nation's unwillingness to come to grips with its history. Critics say it has allowed the aggressor in World War II to pose as the victim. That is less a problem with the U.S. than it is with Japan's neighbors, particularly China and South Korea.
ATFP Issues Statement in support of Rashid Khalidi: The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) expressed full support, July 26, for Dr. Rashid Khalidi against recent charges of plagiarism. Professor Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University's Middle East Institute, served as president of the board of directors of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ) until 2003, when ACJ was dissolved and ATFP was created in its place, at which time he served as vice-president for one year. Professor Khalidi has recently been the target of accusations of plagiarism for an article that appeared on the now discontinued ACJ website, the byline of which had mistakenly been attributed to Professor Khalidi by an ACJ staff member. In response, ATFP executive director Rafi Dajani responded with the following statement:"The byline to the 'Jerusalem, A Concise History' article was changed from 'By Rashid Khalidi' to 'Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources' for the simple reason that at the time of its 2001 posting, an ACJ staffer had mistakenly attributed the article to Dr. Khalidi."
Smithsonian Exhibit Highlights Muslims in the US: The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum for African-American History and Culture, has opened the exhibit “Forgotten Roots: African-American Muslims in Early America.” The exhibit is the first part of a multiyear initiative to document family and community life among African-American Muslims, beginning with the first Muslims in the United States and moving to the present. Some of the first Muslims came to America as enslaved Africans, and the exhibit profiles several of them through drawings, texts, books and documents. The exhibit focuses on the presence and contributions of African-American Muslims in the 18th and 19th centuries with pieces gathered from university collections, census records, newspaper archives, state historical societies and private collections.
Hiroshima Memorial Vandalized: A protester in Japan has been arrested after vandalising a memorial which commemorates the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima 60 years ago. The man, who gave himself up to police, chiselled out a reference to Japan's"mistake" of waging war from the stone. Takeo Shimazu, 27, told police he was a nationalist and asked why Japan should make an apology on its own monument.
Week of 7-25-05 TUESDAY
Supreme Court Nominees/Documents Released: Past administrations have gone both ways on the question of releasing documents from a nominee's work in the solicitor general's office. In his unsuccessful effort to win confirmation for a Supreme Court seat in 1987, Judge Robert H. Bork supplied some documents from his time in the solicitor general's office in the Nixon administration. But the Nixon administration refused to release documents from the solicitor general's office when it came to the nomination of William H. Rehnquist to the Supreme Court. Democrats have drafted an internal memorandum, titled"Past Nominees Have Been Forthcoming With Their Records," that says there is ample precedent for the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting and receiving sensitive documents. The memorandum says, for example, that when the committee considered the nomination of Mr. Bork, it was given internal memorandums and"nonpublic material" relating to Judge Bork's work in the solicitor general's office. And when Justice Rehnquist was nominated to the chief's position, the memorandum said, the committee was given an internal memorandum he wrote when he was a clerk to Justice Robert H. Jackson of the Supreme Court.
The Changing Face of Poverty: What image does the word poverty bring to your mind? An emblematic image from the third world perhaps? An African famine or children kicking a makeshift football around the streets of a South American shanty town. Alternatively, you may think of Britain's Victorian past, either through the photographs of the time or the dramas of today; hungry street urchins in rags or farm hands undertaking back breaking work at the crack of dawn. But according to the people who study these thing, poverty is all around - commuters on the bus, the colleague sitting opposite you at work or even the family that own the home next door.
Saving Archival Records: Imagine losing all your tax records, your high school and college yearbooks, and your child's baby pictures and videos. Now multiply such a loss across every federal agency storing terabytes of information, much of which must be preserved by law. That's the disaster NARA is racing to prevent. It is confronting thousands of incompatible data formats cooked up by the computer industry over the past several decades, not to mention the limited lifespan of electronic storage media themselves. The most famous documents in NARA's possession--the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights--were written on durable calfskin parchment and can safely recline for decades behind glass in a bath of argon gas. It will take a technological miracle to make digital data last that long.
Supreme Court/When Will They Retire?: In recent decades, Supreme Court retirements have played out like lab experiments, testing whether people in powerful jobs would retire if they did not have to. The answer, in most cases, has been no. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. remains the role model for all modern justices in legal thinking. Alas, he may also be the role model for never acknowledging the need to retire. Historians still recount how Holmes, at 91, slept through arguments using a stack of law books as a pillow. Justice William O. Douglas, a passionate liberal, suffered a severe stroke in 1974, his 35th year on the court. But Douglas was determined not to give President Ford, a Republican who had led an attempt to impeach Douglas, the satisfaction of choosing his replacement. According to"The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court," by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, Douglas allowed himself to be wheeled to the bench in a state of near-total incapacity, while aides struggled to mask the smell of his incontinence bag. After Douglas was finally pressured into retirement, Ford appointed a more conservative replacement. But in a sign of how much the court has changed politically, but how little it has changed in regard to retirement, Douglas's replacement, John Paul Stevens, is now the court's reigning liberal. And, at 85, Stevens himself admits to no plans to give up his seat.
AFL-CIO Split: For conventioneers at the AFL-CIO’s 50th anniversary meeting the events of 1935 could have a modern-day ring. It was at a convention of the American Federation of Labor 70 years ago in Atlantic City that John L. Lewis delivered labor’s most famous punch, knocking down the president of the carpenter’s union, William Hutcheson, and leading to the split that ended with the formation of a parallel group, the CIO. Lewis, the cigar-puffing chief of the United Mine Workers of America, was riled because the conservative, craft-based AFL had resisted his push to organize the mass-production industries of auto, steel and rubber. Lewis’ dramatic move led to a breakfast meeting the day after the convention where industrial unionists laid the groundwork for a new group inside the American Federation of Labor, the Committee for Industrial Organization. Lewis planned to stay in the AFL while organizing steel and other industries through the committee. But the AFL never wanted to expand beyond craft workers, nor ever warmed to the idea of accepting into its ranks thousands of blacks and Eastern Europeans working in America’s factories and steel mills. When the industrial wing staged aggressive campaigns such as the 44-day sit-down strike at General Motors’ Flint, Mich., plant in 1937, the AFL — which had already suspended the CIO unions — expelled them.
Coveted Link to China's Past Found in Basement: Aftertwo years of searching for the rubbings of Joseph Rock, Karl Debreczeny was shown to a dim storage room in a University of Washington basement this past spring, where he found a neat stack of cardboard boxes, one of them labeled"Canned Salmon." Also attached was a small slip of paper bearing Rock's name. As Debreczeny opened the box, his heart raced. Inside were 17 delicate, black-and-white rubbings on rice paper — the imprints of etchings at Chinese temples. The documents are transfers of stone tablets, called steles, that stood in front of temples all over southwestern China, some for more than 1,000 years. The rubbings were likely made or commissioned in the 1920s by Rock, a noted National Geographic magazine writer. Many temple steles in China are now gone, so the fragile imprints of the lost stones may be the only record that the valuable historic writings ever existed.
George McGovern Talks About His Interest in WW II: Like so many World War II vets, McGovern said he came to savor those years and accomplishments only late in life, specifically a few years ago, when historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed him for his book,"The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45.""He's such a skilled interviewer, when I started talking to him about the war, we talked for a solid week, morning and night," McGovern said."He drew things out of me I had not thought of for 30 years. I've been more interested in the war ever since." During the course of those interviews, McGovern said Ambrose told him,"If I'd been running your campaign in '72, you would have won. They'd have known all about what you did in the war." They didn't, because during that long-ago campaign, McGovern barely mentioned his war record."I suppose I should have made more of it, or my supporters should have," he said."But it's really hard to get up and say you were a hero."Yes, I was the antiwar candidate, and I was proud of that fact. I still am. But they tried to call me unpatriotic because of that. If they'd known I'd been a combat pilot, it might have left a different impression in more peoples' minds."
Cambridge Dons to Halt Decline of History Lessons: Specialist Schools have enlisted Cambridge historians to develop new examinations because of their exasperation at the"appalling" state of the history curriculum. The Specialist Schools Trust, which represents more than three quarters of England's secondaries, has asked the leading university to review the history courses taught in its schools following concerns that the content is too narrow and repetitive. The development comes as concerns grow that children are leaving school with little historical knowledge. Ministers have admitted that pupils learn too much about the Nazis and are increasingly ignorant of British history. This"Hitlerisation of history" has robbed young people of any real sense of chronology and left large gaps in their knowledge, according to the Historical Association. Sir Cyril said there was a dire need to overhaul the teaching of British history to give children, among other things, a sense of Britishness and citizenship."Many academics are appalled at the way history is taught at the moment," he said."There are so many options and teachers can repeat the same modules in different lessons, so many pupils never learn anything more than Henry VIII's wives and Nazi Germany."
Supreme Court/Nominee Excelled as an Advocate Before Court: On a Friday in October 1990, the Justice Department got some bad news from the clerk of the Supreme Court: The justices had disqualified a young assistant solicitor general scheduled to argue a highly technical bankruptcy case the next Monday. For a replacement, Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr tapped his 35-year-old principal deputy, John G. Roberts Jr. Roberts spent the weekend on the case, came to the court Monday morning and fielded questions from the justices for the government's allotted 10 minutes. Then, in the afternoon, he went to the second-most-powerful court in town, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and argued another case -- a complicated financial dispute between the Environmental Protection Agency, which Roberts represented, and the water authority of Rochester, N.Y. Roberts's side won both cases. Although other justices in recent times have come from a career spent mostly in law practice, Roberts's nomination is the first in at least a century in which a former leader of the small, elite group of lawyers who regularly practice before the high court has been picked as a justice, according to Supreme Court historian Dennis J. Hutchinson of the University of Chicago. To argue before the Supreme Court on only a couple of days' notice is rare. But to do so on the same day as appearing before another demanding federal appeals court is practically unheard of, lawyers say, a challenge that only the most confident and versatile of advocates would take on.
Early Deals on Medicare Set the Stage for Today's Problems: In many ways, Medicare is one of the federal government's enduring successes. But when Medicare became law on July 30, 1965, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society program, it also reflected a series of political compromises that were decades in the making and continue to define and shape the giant government insurer. For half a century, social reformers had pushed for national health insurance. They faced heated opposition from the American Medical Association and other groups, which feared government-run insurance as an attack on doctors' autonomy and incomes. Robert M. Ball, Social Security commissioner under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, has called Medicare a"fallback position." Ball and other proponents designed Medicare so it would face the least possible opposition. In contrast to the Medicaid program, which was passed at the same time as a way to provide health coverage to the poor, Medicare was available to all people 65 and older, regardless of income."It was all about greasing the wheels to make the program successful," said Judith M. Feder, a Georgetown University professor who wrote a history of Medicare."Essentially, they were paying claims," Feder said."They were simply turning over the keys to the Treasury to the providers."
New Book Has Journalists and Historians Working Together to Understand Politics: Lisa Jardine, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Ian Kershaw, Richard Evans; some of the leading contemporary historians have been assembled in an innovative work that looks at the big questions of history. What is history? What causes revolutions? How does personality affect politics? These and a host of other weighty topics are covered in an enlightening little book, Big Questions in History, edited by Harriet Swain Jonathan Cape. It uses a novel methodology. Each historical essay is accompanied by commentary by a journalist, discussing the differing views of other leading thinkers, today and in the past. Covering a huge period of history and using examples ranging from ancient Greece to Tony Blair's Britain, the contributors manage to produce learned yet accessible answers. Jardine looks at the impact of technology on social change, while Fernandez-Armesto measures the role of geography in history and Kershaw considers how personality inf luences politics. Although this volume cannot be expected to provide definitive answers, it is a stimulating and thoughtprovoking read that provides a worthy starting point for further reading.
Researchers Reevaluating 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic: Conventional wisdom holds that the 1918-1919"Spanish flu" epidemic -- the deadliest of the 20th century -- first appeared in Kansas and then spread across the country and on to the rest of the world. Now, researchers are offering an alternate theory: They say evidence suggests the flu was taking a deadly toll in New York City months before it emerged in the Midwest. But don't rewrite the history books just yet. One influenza expert said the new findings are pure speculation. And it's not clear if anyone will ever be able to prove the new theory is correct.
Amateur Archeologist Charts Colonial Road: Braddock's Road is being walked again this summer -- two hundred and fifty years after British and Colonial American troops hacked through 122 miles of Maryland and Pennsylvania wilderness on their way to a resounding defeat near Pittsburgh -- as historians mark the 250th anniversary of one of the early battles of the French and Indian War. Today, those who hike the publicly accessible 2? miles of Braddock's Road in Maryland's Savage River State Forest can thank amateur archaeologist Robert L. Bantz, a retired mechanical engineer from the Cumberland area who has spent the past 10 years charting the route.
Czech WWII Era Bunkers For Sale: The Czech Republic still has an extensive system of fortifications built in the 1930s that was intended to prevent an attack by neighboring Nazi Germany. You can often come across of these concrete"bungalows" in Czech forests near the borders. While some consider the structures ugly, historians point out their great historical value. Most of the bunkers are still the property of Czech Army but they have rapidly become a burden. The Ministry of Defense has now decided to get rid of them to sell them to private buyers.
Chicago Historical Society Names New Leader: Faced with a $1.3 million operating deficit and a building that largely will be closed to the public for the first nine months of next year, the Chicago Historical Society on Monday chose as its new leader a Chicago attorney skilled in fundraising for not-for-profit agencies. Gary Johnson, 55, a partner in the Chicago law firm Jones Day, becomes the first non-professional historian to head the 149-year-old museum. A native Chicagoan who grew up in Park Ridge, he received a master's degree in history as a Rhodes Scholar at England's Oxford University.
Bones of Bronze Age Scottish Settlers to Be Examined: The lives of what are thought to be the first prehistoric settlers in north-east Scotland are to be examined in a Europe-wide research programme. The research will concentrate on a little-known race of Bronze Age settlers called the Beaker People. It is thought they may have introduced metalwork to Britain 4,000 years ago.
Restoring Reputation of 'Artist-Citizen of the U.S.--Brumidi: "Let's face the facts," the organizer of a ceremony to celebrate the artist Brumidi told a recent audience."Brumidi is not widely known for his achievements. I don't expect one person in 1,000 recognizes his name." Brumidi, for the other 999, is Constantino Brumidi, the Italian-born fresco artist whose ornate Renaissance- and Pompeian-style murals decorate much of the United States Capitol. Brumidi spent 25 years, from 1854 to 1879, laboring inside America's great symbol of democracy. His pink-cheeked cherubs and classical Greek and Roman figures, woven around distinctly American themes, were intended to uplift and inspire all who walked through the building or worked there. Yet today, even some members of Congress don't know who Brumidi is. Enter the irrepressible and relentless Joseph Grano, a fast-talking lawyer and civic gadfly whose causes include historic preservation, and who is now dedicated, he said, to making Brumidi"a folk hero for Americans."
Film Grants: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded $6.4 million in grants for 16 film projects. Nine of these have been named"We the People" projects, a special recognition by the NEH for model projects that advance the study, teaching, and understanding of American history and culture. Funding for the film projects may be used for film development, production, scripting, or planning. Ten of the 16 grants will support production of documentaries, including a two-hour television biography of Walt Whitman; a two-hour television documentary on the life of Helen Keller and her place in American culture; a four-hour documentary examining the life and times of Andrew Jackson; a one-hour documentary on the life and work of Louisa May Alcott; a one-hour documentary on the Ellis Island immigrant hospital; and a two-hour film exploring the life and work of American playwright Eugene O'Neill.
Activists Re - Enact 1946 Georgia Lynching: Civil rights activists marked the 59th anniversary of an unsolved lynching Monday by re-enacting the brutal slayings of two black couples who were forced out of their car in Monroe, Georgia by a mob of white men and killed. The scene was recreated with black volunteers acting as Ku Klux Klansmen, fireworks for gunshots and fake blood poured on for effect. Lakeitha Lewis-Johnson, 30, cried during the re-enactment and turned away from the shouts of the Klan leader. ''My grandmother lived in that era,'' Lewis-Johnson said. ''She'd be scared to talk about this, even as an old woman. It's a hurting feeling.'' Activists said they staged the re-enactment to gain support for the prosecution of anyone who may have been involved in what they called the last mass public lynching in the United States.
Week of 7-25-05 MONDAY
Virginia's History of Lynching: Lynching was part of a very distinct pattern of institutional racism in Virginia. Of the 44 states where lynching occurred, Virginia ranked 14th in the number of victims. Racism has continued to be an issue in Virginia long after the lynchings stopped. As recently as 2000, Virginia celebrated April as Confederate History Month. It wasn't until 1997 that the state song"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" was"retired," with its lyrics referring to an"old darkey," a derogatory reference to African Americans, who longingly ponders the days he worked for"old massa."
Catholic Dissent over Mystery of the Pregnant Madonnas: An Italian author has stirred controversy within the Roman Catholic church with a new theory linking one of the most intriguing traditions in western art to the suppression of the enigmatic Knights Templar. A string of artists working from the middle of the 14th century near Florence painted the Virgin Mary as they imagined her to have been while she was pregnant. The best-known of these swelling Madonnas is by the great 15th century Tuscan artist Piero della Francesca. It shows an apparently dejected mother-to-be with one hand resting on the burgeoning front of her maternity gown.
Cambridge Historians To Develope History Exams For England's Schools: Specialist schools have enlisted Cambridge historians to develop new examinations because of their exasperation at the"appalling" state of the history curriculum. The Specialist Schools Trust, which represents more than three quarters of England's secondaries, has asked the leading university to review the history courses taught in its schools following concerns that the content is too narrow and repetitive.
Scottish Declaration of Arbroath To Be Preserved: A technology used to preserve Egyptian mummies from deterioration is to be employed in Britain for the first time when Scotland’s most iconic national document is given a rare public airing next month. The Declaration of Arbroath, the founding document of Scotland and one of the most eloquent expressions of nationhood, is so fragile that the storage room where it is normally kept is not allowed to rise above 16C (61F) or 45 per cent humidity. No one except a few privileged staff at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh is allowed to see it. But a special case that extracts oxygen and replaces it with nitrogen will allow the document to be given its first outing for five years as part of a series of commemorations marking the 700th anniversary of the execution of the Scottish patriot William Wallace.
Blair Relies Upon Churchill For Rhetoric: Churchill is embedded in Tony Blair’s rhetoric, and behind every reference to the “Blitz spirit”. A brooding, bulldog bust of Churchill is prominently displayed in the Oval Office by George W. Bush, while Eliot Cohen’s stirring account of Churchill’s wartime leadership is required reading in the White House. Never in the field of human conflict was one man so widely quoted by so many. John F. Kennedy once observed that Winston Churchill “mobilised the English language and sent it into battle”. Today, facing a new enemy, that powerful army of oratory is marching off to war again.
Past Supreme Court Justices: It's good thing that John Roberts has been universally described as decent, funny, civil and fair, since he may be joining a court with a long history of pugilists, ideologues and misanthropes who have somehow made it past the U.S. Senate. Justice James Clark McReynolds, who served until 1941, was, in the words of historian David Garrow, a"drooling anti-Semite" who refused to speak with fellow Justices Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo or have his picture taken with them. Chief Justice Fred Moore Vinson was a glorified drinking buddy of President Harry Truman's whose sudden death was hailed by fellow Justice Felix Frankfurter as"the first indication I have ever had that there is a God." Justice Potter Stewart's friends said Stewart resigned partly because he couldn't stand Warren Burger any longer; Burger, he said, was like the show captain on an ocean liner who entertains passengers in the dining room while the real captain steers the ship.
Heritage Tourism Increasing in Popularity: Southern states are promoting travel to civil rights and African American historical sites as they ride a wave of black tourism. It's called heritage tourism, the trend of transforming the annual family vacation into a cultural history lesson."It's the second-fastest-growing market segment of tourism," said Rich Harrill, director of the University of South Carolina's Institute for Tourism Research. It's particularly popular among increasingly middle-class black Americans.
Ancient Phallus Discovered in Germany: A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is among the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered, researchers say. The 20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about 28,000 years old, was buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jura.
Thracian Riches Discovered in Bulgaria: Archaeologists in Bulgaria have unearthed the treasure-filled tomb of what is thought to be a Thracian king. A golden crown, ring, armour and other artefacts dating back 2,400 years were found with the skeleton in a tomb near the south-eastern town of Zlatinitsa.
'Nazi' Row over Indian Textbooks: Humanrights campaigners in India's Gujarat state have condemned school textbooks which they say praise Hitler. The books are issued by the Hindu nationalist state government. One includes a chapter on the"internal achievements of Nazism". A Jesuit priest and social activist, Cedric Prakash, says the books contain more than 300 factual errors and make little mention of the holocaust.
Giving Hitler Hell: When Nazi decrees destroyed Arnold Weiss's family, leaving him abandoned, it would have been hard to imagine this powerless child one day returning to Germany to mete out a rough justice of his own.
DNA/Surge in Interest in Black Genealogy: DNA tests are fueling the biggest surge in African-American genealogy since Alex Haley's 1976 novel,"Roots," inspired a generation to try to trace their ancestors back to Africa. For those who have spent decades poring over plantation records that did not list slaves by surname and ship manifests that did not list where they came from, the idea that the key lies in their own bodies is a powerful one. But the joy that often accompanies the answers from the tests is frequently tempered by the unexpected questions they raise. African-Americans say the tests can make the ugliness of slavery more palpable and leave the hunger for heritage unsatisfied.
How a Trip to Film in Iraq Ended in a Military Jail Cell: The NYT has interviewed Cyrus Kar, the recently-released American filmmaker who was arrested in Iraq while filming a documentary history of Cyrus the Great. After his first four days in solitary confinement at an American military prison in Iraq, Kar was taken from his small cell and brought before two F.B.I. agents, who before questioning him gave him a sheet of paper listing his rights."I have the right to a lawyer?" Mr. Kar said he asked as he scanned the list."Yes," he said he was told by one of the agents, whom he knew only as Robert."Do you actually have lawyers here?" Mr. Kar inquired."No," he quoted the agent as explaining."The last guy who requested one is still waiting two years later, in Afghanistan."
Week of 7-18-05 FRIDAY
Scopes Trial: The Real Story: The most important thing to understand about the Scopes trial was that it was a publicity stunt. There were no fundamentalist preachers trolling the hallways of Dayton’s schools hunting for teachers who were violating Tennessee’s prohibition on teaching evolution. “By Southern standards, Dayton was relatively progressive,” said Douglas Linder, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school who maintains the exhaustively detailed Famous Trials Web site, from which some of this account is adapted. “Evolution had been taught in the classroom for a couple of years without any controversy.” The American Civil Liberties Union had published an offer to defend anyone willing to challenge the statute, and Scopes, a football coach and substitute teacher at Rhea County High School, volunteered at the behest of prominent Dayton residents who thought a show trial would be a good way to get attention. (MSNBC)
John Roberts, Historian: Judge John G. Roberts, the nominee picked by President Bush for the Supreme Court to take the place of retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, has earned many honors in life, starting with several awards for papers concerned with history, which he earned while an undergraduate at Harvard University in the early 1970s.
Week of 7-18-05 THURSDAY
John Roberts/Who Is He? IN a lengthy NYT profile of Judge Roberts, the NYT notes that he wanted to be a historian initially. At Harvard he walked off with a history prize. He is the son of a company man, and he has lived a loyalist's life. His teachers remember him as the brightest of boys, but his classmates say he never lorded it over them. He was always conservative, but not doctrinaire. He was raised and remains a practicing Roman Catholic who declines, friends say, to wear his faith on his sleeve.
Jewish Catacombs: The Roman catacombs are intricate labyrinths of burial chambers that were built roughly between the third and fifth century A.D. They are considered among the most important relics of early Christianity. But a recent study of a Jewish catacomb in the same vicinity finds that it was started a century before the oldest known Christian versions. The fact that the catacombs are all constructed with similar layouts and architecture suggests a common origin. Prof. Leonard Rutgers (Utrecht University) and his colleagues have used radiocarbon dating to show that the Jewish Villa Torlonia catacomb was begun in the second century — and perhaps even earlier — making it the oldest known of the Roman catacombs.
Supreme Court Battles Thru History: Despite calls for bipartisanship from both the president and senators, Americans should not expect a smooth confirmation process, according to a James Madison University political scientist."The next confirmation is going to be difficult," said Assistant Professor Margaret S. Williams, who recently co-wrote an article about U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings from 1955 to 1994."It's going to be increasingly difficult to get nominees through the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's highly political because the payoff is so big and Supreme Court nominations are rare."
Coup Attempt Against Hitler Remembered: Members of the German government and military commemorated the unsuccessful attempt to kill Adolf Hitler 61 years ago, laying wreaths Wednesday at the former Nazi military headquarters where the plotters were executed.
Fighting for Freedom in the Mississippi Sun: "In 1964 I was a 'freedom teacher' for one brief summer. I came home; others were not so lucky. When I looked at the elderly face of Edgar Ray Killen on the news a few weeks ago, the events of 1964 flooded my memory."
Scholars Argue Kurds Should Be Given Autonomy: The most contentious issue among Iraq's new framers will probably be the relationship between Islamic and temporal law. But a close second will be the fight over whether to grant Kurdish leaders' demands for a substantial degree of autonomy from the central state. In The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq, 12 scholars argue that power sharing and"pluri-nationalism" -- roughly on the model of the multicultural structures of Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland -- are both possible and desirable in Iraq. The book's contributors include Peter W. Galbraith, a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation who last year made waves by calling for a"three-state solution" in which Iraq would be carved into autonomous Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish republics, held together within a loose federation. (subscribers only)
Castro's Sins Detailed in New Book: American conventional wisdom, Humberto Fontova suggests in a new polemical book on Castro, is that Cuba under Batista was a brutal and corrupt dictatorship, where rich Americans, including mobsters, dallied with prostitutes and disported themselves in casinos while the indigenous peasants were mired in poverty. Castro, for all the manifest failures of contemporary Cuban society, gets credit for universal health care and a high literacy rate. The"free Cuba" crowd of expatriates in Miami are just a bunch of cry-babies who want Americans to help them regain the wealth and privilege they enjoyed under Batista. That seems a fair assessment of what many Americans think. It is almost entirely wrong, according to Fontova, starting with Batista. Cuba under him, according to Fontova, was by no means the hell on earth of the popular imagination, but enjoyed the second-highest per capita income in Latin America. According to a U.S. State Department report Cubans in the 1950s were"among the most informed in the world," with 58 daily newspapers to choose from, albeit liable to censorship by Batista, who Fontova admits was a"hoodlum." Still the judiciary was independent, the people were healthy and well-fed and life, in Fontova's view, was much sweeter for Cubans of every class than it has been since 1959.
Who Is Karl Rove? In a column in the Village Voice James Ridgeway recounts the highpoints in the life of Karl Rove. Highlights:"[In 1970] Rove pays visit to Chicago campaign headquarters of Alan Dixon, a Democrat running for state treasurer. Disguised as a volunteer, Rove steals official campaign letterhead and sends out 1,000 invitations to people in the city's red-light district and soup kitchens." Later he worked for Lee Atwater and Donald Segretti. IN 1994, running Bush's campaign for governor,"Rove dreams up idea of staging calls to voters from supposed pollsters who ask such things as whether people would be 'more or less likely to vote for Governor Richards if [they] knew her staff is dominated by lesbians.'"
What Made King George III Mad? Scientists have found high levels of arsenic in the hair of King George III and say the deadly poison may be to blame for the bouts of apparent madness he suffered. In 1969, researchers proposed the strange behavior of the monarch who reigned during the American Revolution resulted from a rare hereditary blood disorder called porphyria. However, a study this week in The Lancet medical journal found high concentrations of arsenic in the king's hair and contends the severity and duration of his episodes of illness may have been caused by the toxic substance.
UK Will No Longer Tax Holocaust Victims' Compensations: The government said yesterday that it will no longer tax the compensation that Holocaust victims and their heirs receive from Swiss banks holding their war era accounts. Around 1,000 people in the UK will benefit from the decision to exempt the payments from income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. Many Jewish people deposited money in Swiss bank accounts to prevent it from being seized by the Nazis. These have been dormant since the end of the second world war.
Milan Rastilav Stefanik/Co-Founder of Czechoslovakia: One of the founding fathers of Czechoslovakia, Slovak astronomer and politician Milan Rastislav Stefanik was born on July 21st 1880 exactly 125 years ago. Stefanik first studied in Prague where he met his professor and future collaborator Tomas Garigue Masaryk. Later he moved to France and together with Masaryk and Edvard Benes endeavored to establish an independent Czechoslovak state. But today Stefanik is far less widely remembered than the other two. Martin Mikule, of Radio Praha, talked to historian Jan Kuklik from Charles University and asked him to explain Stefanik's role in the process of setting up an independent state.
Textbook Approved for Philadelphia Black History Course: In Philadelphia, students soon will be talking about the college text, The African-American Odyssey, as a high school version of the textbook has been approved for the district's new African American history course. The book itself won't be published until next month. But the lead author promises the adaptation created for district students will provide the same breadth, scope and engaging narrative that has made The African- American Odyssey a popular text on college campuses. It will begin with the history of Africa, close with the 2004 elections, and stress the chronology of events."What we want to teach them is change over time and cause and effect," she said.
Week of 7-18-05 WEDNESDAY
China Celebrating Ancient Mariner Zheng He: The captivating tale of Zheng He, a Chinese eunuch who explored the Pacific and Indian Oceans with a mighty armada almost a century before Columbus discovered America, has long languished as a tantalizing footnote in China's imperial history. Now, on the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's first mission in 1405, all that is changing. Zheng He's legacy is being burnished - some critics say glossed over - to give rising China a new image on the world stage. Books and television shows, replicas of Zheng He's ships and a new $50 million museum in Nanjing promote Zheng He as a maritime cultural ambassador for a powerful but ardently peaceful nation.
HNN Journalist Uncovers Grading Scandal at a NYC Public School: Philip Nobile, a journalist (and HNN Contributing Editor) has been profiled in the NYT for exposing a grading scandal at the NYC public school where he teaches history. The state has confirmed his charges that teachers were pressured by officials at the school to alter Regents test grades so more students would pass. One official at the school who wanted more students to receive higher grades told teachers,"In a pinch they [students] can get points from writing any old garbage down [on the essay portion of the test]."
Museums Post Online Collection of Photograpic Masterpieces: In 1999 two proud powerhouses of photography - the George Eastman House in Rochester and the International Center of Photography in Midtown - began to acknowledge that they needed each other. More specifically, officials at the Eastman House - the world's oldest photography museum, with more than 400,000 photos and negatives, dating back to the invention of the medium - felt that they needed a New York City presence. And the International Center, a younger institution with a smaller collection, wanted access to Eastman's vast holdings, which include work by Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. Now both institutions are at work on an ambitious project to create one of the largest freely accessible databases of masterwork photography anywhere on the Web.
History of Supreme Court Nomination Battles: The history of presidents’ battles with senators over nominations to the Supreme Court goes back to 1795, when the Senate rejected George Washington’s nomination of John Rutledge to serve as chief justice. Some past struggles over who will sit on the Supreme Court have involved allegations of sexual pressure -- Clarence Thomas -- while others have sometimes, as in the case of President Lyndon Johnson’s choice of Abe Fortas in 1968, brought to light a nominee’s tragic flaw. Sometimes, as in the cases of Louis Brandeis in 1916 and Robert Bork in 1986, the nomination battle mirrored the ideological struggles of that time. As a result, the confirmation process has a history of drama, revenge and vindication.
Week of 7-18-05 TUESDAY
Ward Churchill Defends Himself: In an interview published by Counterpunch, a leftwing website, Ward Churchill defends his record, denies he was a plagiarist, and claims that the liberal-left collaborated with rightwingers like O'Reilly to try to destroy him. He says that Michael Bellesiles was"destroyed on the basis of what amount at most to trivial mistakes."
Reading List on Iraq: T.X. Hammes, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, lists the books readers should read to help understand Iraq and Islam, among them: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, by David Galula, 1964 and the Small Wars Manual, U.S. Marine Corps, 1940.
St. George Slaying the Dragon: THE earliest known template for the image of St George slaying the dragon has been found in Syria, archaeologists believe. A mosaic floor dating from approximately AD260 depicting the figure who became the patron saint of England has been found in the city of Palmyra in the Syrian desert. Experts say that the portrait is one of the finest classical mosaics yet uncovered and may even be the source of the St George legend. George was reputedly a Roman soldier, martyred in Palestine some 1,700 years ago. The mosaic shows Bellerophon, a hero in Greek mythology, killing a chimera, and it was found in what appears to have been a dining room in Palmyra.
Smithsonian Finds Scopes Trial Photos: Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, a trove of about 60 unpublished photos from the landmark case has been found in Smithsonian Institution archives, including a shot of Clarence Darrow's courtroom sparring with William Jennings Bryan."These stunning photographs are the discovery of a lifetime and a spectacular find for the Smithsonian Archives," Marcel LaFollette, a historian who volunteers at the Smithsonian, said in a statement Monday. He found the negatives while doing research for a book. Among them is one of Darrow, the most famous defense attorney of his day, interrogating Bryan, the orator and presidential candidate prosecuting the case.
Kennewick Man: While scientists examining Kennewick Man were cautious about announcing any sweeping conclusions regarding a set of remains that has already prompted much new thinking on the origins of the first Americans, the team members said the skeleton was proving to be even more of a scientific find than they had expected."I have looked at thousands of skeletons and this is one of the most intact, most fascinating, most important I have ever seen," said Douglas W. Owsley, a forensic anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History."It's the type of skeleton that comes along once in a lifetime."
Karl Rove: John Dean argues in a published article that Karl Rove could be indicted for possibly violating a little-known statute used by the Bush administration to prosecute a historian who leaked official information against a high-powered British national in 2002. Jonathan Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.) Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.
Apology for : Descendants of a U.S. fur trader who burned a native village and kidnapped the son of a local chief 200 years ago have apologized for their forefather's actions. This weekend, William Twombly, a direct descendant of Capt. Robert Gray, forged a new relationship with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations by just saying sorry."We are sorry for the abduction and insult to your chief and his great family and for the burning of Opitsaht," said Twombly, of Corvallis, Ore. In the late 1780s and early 1790s, U.S. Captains Gray and Kendrick sailed the Columbia Rediviva and the Lady Washington into Clayoquot Sound to trade for furs from natives. While Kendrick maintained good relations with local natives, Gray did not.
Rating Academics in UK: All active academic researchers in the UK will have their work assessed in 2008 by 900 fellow academics, sitting in 67 subject panels, with 15 coordinating panels to ensure consistency. These judgments will be used to determine funding for years to come and competition is already intense to secure good ratings for departments. There's no mention of Hollywood in the criteria published by the history panel for the 2008 RAE at the weekend, but it says it will consider television programmes as well as books and learned articles, as long as they demonstrate an"individually attributable research component".
GW's Spy Network: Bernadine Fawcett of Patchogue is an amateur historian. So when she inherited a collection of letters written by a Connecticut clergyman during the American Revolution, it sparked a five-year search to make sense of their contents. What she concluded is that the Rev. Andrew Eliot of Fairfield was a member of George Washington's far-flung intelligence-gathering network and possibly a member of the secret Culper spy ring that provided information on British activity in New York. But some historians doubt her conclusions.
Supreme Court Nominations: Senators from both parties say that when President Bush chooses a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he should break with recent tradition and nominate someone without judicial experience. President George Washington believed judicial experience was crucial, so his first nominees were former state judges. But in the past century, presidents relied more on political activists, elected officials or cronies. In the past 30 years, the pendulum swung back to Washington's approach. Presidents stopped nominating politicians and primarily nominated judges. They liked judges because they knew federal law and their judicial records were often more consistent than politicians' voting records, enhancing the chances for Senate confirmation. No one with congressional experience has been appointed to the court since Sherman Minton in 1949.
Rove Scandal in Historical Perspective: "Sometimes, it seems like I've seen this movie," said Stephen Hess, a veteran of the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, both rocked by scandals that are the milestones for judging the seriousness of political misdeeds. Rove, the architect of Bush's rise to political prominence, is the latest in a long line of presidential advisers who have found themselves in political, if not legal, difficulties arising from their service to a president. But legal historian David Garrow, a noted author and professor at Emory University in Atlanta, views the flap involving Rove as"pretty tame" in terms of White House scandals, unless Fitzgerald is contemplating more serious charges against the White House aide."This looks like pretty small potatoes to me," Garrow said."Watergate was the pinnacle of White House scandal, of course, but in the case against Rove - if there is a case - it appears to me we have another special prosecutor run amok."
Celebrating Anniversary of C. Vann Woodward's Strange Career of Jim Crow: MARCH 25, 1965 was a warm, cloudy day in Montgomery, Ala., and though it looked like rain, 25,000 people had gathered in front of the state capitol to listen to Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his closing speech for the Freedom March, which had begun several days and 58 miles before in Selma. In the crowd was a small band of academics who had come for the end of the march, among them Chicago's John Hope Franklin, Columbia's Richard Hofstadter, and Yale Law School's Louis Pollak. But literally towering above them was Yale historian C. Vann Woodward, a quiet, sartorial Southerner who, 10 years earlier, had written"The Strange Career of Jim Crow," a book that King himself had once called the"historical Bible of the civil rights movement." Woodward argued in the book, published 50 years ago this fall, that uniform, legally codified segregation, far from being an inevitable outgrowth of race relations in the aftermath of the Civil War, as was long assumed, had only emerged during the 1890s-an argument that gave hope to those struggling to overthrow those laws (commonly referred to as"Jim Crow") through the courts and legislatures. The book, King said in the Montgomery speech, proved that"however frustrating the hour, it will not be long" before segregation was crushed. King wasn't the only person to praise"The Strange Career of Jim Crow." By the time of the march, it had sold tens of thousands of copies, inspired thousands to join the civil rights movement, and was about to be republished in its second revised edition-pretty good for a 183-page scholarly text.
Author of Da Vinci Code Speaks Out: Its author has earned a fortune, not to mention the condemnation of historians and religious leaders alike.According to The Da Vinci Code, Christ avoided crucifixion, lived happily ever after with his wife Mary Magdalene, and established a royal dynasty, which still runs through Europe's better families. Yet tonight, the writer Dan Brown will tell television viewers these astonishing claims which have earned him $ 140m are not just fiction but the truth. It is the first time the rarely interviewed author has defended his best-selling whodunit on British TV. In the documentary, Unlocking Da Vinci's Code, Brown says: 'As I started researching I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood. But I became a believer.'
Stalin Mined Russian Landmarks in WW II: For more than six decades it was the social hub of the Soviet elite. A domineering hotel metres away from the walls of the Kremlin, it was the designated posting house of party luminaries, and Stalin liked to celebrate his birthday in its plush restaurant. But this week it has emerged that the guests of the hotel Moskva were literally sitting on a timebomb. Workmen demolishing the structure found more than a tonne of explosives in its foundations, city police revealed this week. They said the explosives had probably been planted by the NKVD - the KGB's predecessor - to be detonated if the Nazis took the capital during the second world war.
WW II/Celebrating End: An impressive roster of speakers, including Walter Cronkite, Madeleine Albright and Andy Rooney, will gather in New Orleans Oct. 5-9 to participate in an International Conference on World War II sponsored by the National D-Day Museum. It is the highlight of a yearlong celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.
WWII Germ Warfare Victims/Japanese Court Rejects Appeal: A Japanese court has rejected appeals from 180 Chinese demanding compensation for damages caused by Japan's World War Two germ warfare program in their country. The court acknowledged Japan's germ warfare programs caused damage but ruled the Japanese government wasn't responsible for compensation. The ruling came as the Japanese government announced it would clean up decaying wartime chemical weapons found last month in southern China. The weapons injured three people. Japan only confirmed a few years ago that it had a germ warfare unit in China when Japanese troops occupied much of the country during the war.
History Majors in the UK: The prospects for graduates with a history major are very good in the UK, according to two reports on the employability of history graduates, published by the Higher Education Academy. A string of successful careers in the media, business, politics and even spying have been built on a history degree, found the reports' author David Nicholls."A remarkable number have gone on to become the movers and shakers of modern-day Britain," he notes. Highflying historians range from the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and four other members of the cabinet to the head of MI6, John Scarlett; from radio presenters Nicky Campbell and Simon Mayo, TV presenters Jonathan Ross and Timmy Mallett to the general secretary of the TUC, John Monks, the chairman of Woolworths, Gerald Corbett, and the outgoing chairman of Manchester United, Sir Roy Gardner. History graduates are found in disproportionate numbers on the boards of the UK's top 100 companies.
Iraq Virtual Museum: Italy is to make an Internet recreation of Baghdad's famed musem of antiquities as it was before being pillaged during the US-led invasion of Iraq. Iraqi authorities are said to be enthusiastic about the project which was set up by the Italian foreign ministry, the culture ministry and the National Research Centre (CNR) with the help of Italy's internationally famous art police.
Iraq War/Censorship: BRITAIN's former special representative in Baghdad has been told he cannot publish a book that describes the invasion of Iraq as"politically illegitimate". Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who has retired as a diplomat but is still bound by Civil Service rules, has been told by his former employers at the Foreign Office that The Price of War will have to be substantially edited before they will allow it to be published. The book is also understood to criticise the United States over the post-war occupation. Sir Jeremy had hoped to publish the book later this year, but he must now remove sections that draw on his private conversations with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister.
Obituary/Westmoreland: Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who commanded the United States forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, overseeing the vast troop buildup and the height of the fighting, died last night in a retirement home in Charleston, S.C., his son, James Ripley Westmoreland, announced. The general was 91. Westy, as he became known while a West Point cadet, was driving and combative - in World War II, leading a fast-moving artillery battalion; in Vietnam, directing"search and destroy" missions meant to decimate the enemy; in retirement, suing CBS for a television documentary that he said had defamed him. The libel suit, which he brought to trial in 1984 but dropped early in 1985, revived long-standing controversy about him. Over the years, he was widely criticized, inside and outside the armed forces, for his prime role in the conduct of the Vietnam War.
Saddam Trial: After more than 19 months in American custody, Saddam Hussein was referred for trial on Sunday in the first of more than a dozen cases of crimes against humanity that Iraqi and American investigators have been building against the deposed Iraqi dictator. No date was set for Mr. Hussein's trial in the killing of 150 men and youths from Dujail, a town 35 miles north of Baghdad that was the scene of an assassination attempt against him in 1982. But Raid Juhi, chief investigative judge for the Iraqi Special Tribunal, who announced that he had ended his inquiry into the case and sent it to the trial court in a process known as a referral, said the date would be set"in the coming few days."
Week of 7-18-05 MONDAY
Pompeii: Decorated cups and fine silver platters were once again polished and on display Monday as archaeologists unveiled an ancient Roman dining set that lay hidden for two millennia in the volcanic ash of Pompeii. In 2000, archaeologists found a wicker basket containing the silverware in the ruins of a thermal bath near the remains of the Roman city, said Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, head of Pompeii's archaeological office. The basket was filled with the volcanic ash that buried the city when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. When experts X-rayed it, they saw the objects preserved in the ash.
German Mosque for Ex-Nazis: Buried in government and private archives are hundreds of documents that trace the battle to control the Islamic Center of Munich. Never before made public, the material shows how radical Islam established one of its first and most important beachheads in the West when a group of ex-Nazi soldiers decided to build a mosque. The soldiers' presence in Munich was part of a nearly forgotten subplot to World War II: the decision by tens of thousands of Muslims in the Soviet Red Army to switch sides and fight for Hitler. After the war, thousands sought refuge in West Germany, building one of the largest Muslim communities in 1950s Europe. When the Cold War heated up, they were a coveted prize for their language skills and contacts back in the Soviet Union. For more than a decade, U.S., West German, Soviet and British intelligence agencies vied for control of them in the new battle of democracy versus communism. Yet the victor wasn't any of these Cold War combatants. Instead, it was a movement with an equally powerful ideology: the Muslim Brotherhood.The story of how the Brotherhood exported its creed to the heart of Europe highlights a recurring error by Western democracies. For decades, countries have tried to cut deals with political Islam -- backing it in order to defeat another enemy, especially communism. Most famously, the U.S. and its allies built up mujahadeen holy warriors in 1980s Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union -- paving the way for the rise of Osama bin Laden, who quickly turned on his U.S. allies in the 1990s. Munich was a momentous early example of this dubious strategy. Documents and interviews show how the Muslim Brotherhood formed a working arrangement with U.S. intelligence organizations, outmaneuvering German agencies for control of the former Nazi soldiers and their mosque. But the U.S. lost its hold on the movement, and in short order conservative, arch-Catholic Bavaria had become host to a center of radical Islam. (WSJ)
Middle East Studies: Princeton University is losing an assistant professor of Near Eastern studies — and a likely tenure battle. Michael Doran is taking a position at the U.S. National Security Council. Although he had yet to come up for tenure, his supporters and critics had already been skirmishing. Doran, who declined to comment on his move, is considered more sympthatic to Israel and to U.S. foreign policy than are many scholars of the Middle East.
Russia/Soviet Occupation: The Russian Foreign Ministry has asked the Baltic States not to confuse the terms"annexation" and"occupation." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday that the two terms denote different things."In the case of the Baltic States, the situation arose as a consequence of the Soviet-German pact in 1940," Chizhov said."This term was included in the international agreement between Russia and Lithuania that was signed in 1991.... Recently, certain politicians in particular countries have been adopting the term 'occupation. I do not approve of Stalin's politics, but in an international legal sense, all formalities in this area were observed during World War II," he said.
Scopes Monkey Trial: The Scopes Monkey Trial was the first trial to be covered with the full arsenal of modern media — broadcast live on the radio, filmed for newsreels in the theaters, chronicled by hundreds of newspapers that printed the daily transcript. The picture that emerged, especially in the hyperventilating prose of the iconoclastic Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken and later in the play and movie “Inherit the Wind,” was of a town full of “Christian pro-creation” believers who were “uneducated, dimwitted people who came to town barefoot and married their cousin,” said historian John Perry, co-author of a new book, “Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial.” He and co-author Marvin Olasky recount the trial and argue for teaching the hypothesis that an intelligent designer shaped the course of human development.
Jefferson Family Reunion: In their first meeting away from Thomas Jefferson's estate in Virginia, about 65 people who believe they are descendants of the nation's third president Jefferson and slave Sally Hemings gathered for a weekend reunion in southern Ohio."My son is only 4, so I want him to meet his black cousins," said Lucian Truscott of Los Angeles, a descendant of Jefferson's brother who has spoken at several previous reunions. Two of Hemings' surviving four children, who claimed to be Jefferson's sons, settled in southern Ohio.
HNN Exclusive/SCOTUS/FBI: A controversial FBI file that reportedly contains allegations of homosexual conduct by Abe Fortas, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1960s, is missing, according to a story by historian Marc Stein published by HNN. The FBI says it cannot locate the file. Never proven, the allegations may have been made as a way for the FBI to threaten Fortas with exposure, encourage his resignation, or prevent his appointment as Chief Justice.
Hawaii: If passed, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would give native Hawaiians equivalent legal standing to American Indians and native Alaskans. Haunani Apoliona, a musician who is chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency that would be superseded by the new governing body, said the bill was a long overdue acknowledgment that Hawaiian history did not begin with the arrival of Cook and the British Navy in 1778."We were here before Columbus," Ms. Apoliona said."We were in Hawaii before the Pilgrims."
Karl Rove Controversy: Only a few presidential confidants as indispensable as Mr. Rove have ever been thrown overboard, and then reluctantly. Sherman Adams, the chief of staff to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, left the White House in a cloud of scandal in 1958 after accepting a vicuna fur coat from a business friend who had interests at the White House. Bert Lance, a close adviser of President Jimmy Carter and director of the Office of Management and Budget, was forced out in 1977 because of charges he had mismanaged the bank he ran before the election.
WW II/Potsdam Anniversary: At the Potsdam conference 60 years ago this week, Winston Churchill complained to Stalin that British diplomats in Romania were being penned in as if they were under arrest."An iron fence has descended," he complained. Churchill must have liked the sound of that phrase. But perhaps it wasn't quite completely right. After all, fences do not descend. So eight months later, on 5 March 1946, in Fulton, Missouri, he changed it slightly and managed at a stroke to sum up the division of Europe that rapidly followed the Potsdam meeting."From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," he declared. Potsdam marked the final end of the West's wartime alliance with the Soviet Union. At Potsdam, the Cold War started.
Civil Rights Movement/KKK Testimony: A Ku Klux Klan leader who was at a workers' rally more than 25 years ago where five people died and 10 others were injured gave defiant testimony to a commission Saturday, saying"maybe God guided the bullets." Virgil L. Griffin of Mount Holly, imperial wizard of the Cleveland Knights of the KKK, said someone in the crowd of Communist Workers Party marchers fired first and hit a van driven by a Klansman."We had every right to drive down that street with nobody touching the cars," he said."I didn't come to shoot or kill anybody."
Atomic Bomb Anniversary: The atomic bomb detonated in the New Mexico desert at 05:29:45 local time on 16 July, 1945,"lit up the entire world". That is how Private Daniel Yearout, one of the few remaining eyewitnesses some 60 years on, recalls the morning the powers of the atom were first unleashed. One eyewitness said it was as if someone had turned the sun on with a switch. Asked for his first thought after the test, top scientist J Robert Oppenheimer quoted from his favourite Hindu poem, The Bhagavad-Gita:"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." For others who were involved, such as Private Yearout, it would be some time before they fully realised what had taken place.
History Carnival: Caleb McDaniel has posted History Carnival 12th edition of the History Carnival, a showcase of weblog posts about history, historiography and history teaching.
Academic Boycott of Israel: At its 24 June 2005 meeting, the governing council of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations unanimously approved a resolution commending"the British Association of University Teachers’ recent decision to repeal its earlier motion calling for a boycott of Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities. SHAFR is committed to the free exchange of ideas among academics without regard to the policies of their respective governments."
Week of 7-11-05 FRIDAY
WW II/Inteernment Camps for Japanese: Bryan Imanishi, 19, was born decades after his grandparents were detained at the Minidoka internment camp along with 7,000 other Japanese Americans from the Seattle area. He's read books about their experiences. But just last month, he and his father joined a pilgrimage to what's left of the Idaho site to recapture a piece of history in a way no textbook can do."I felt like I should do something," Imanishi said."For the younger generation, it's hard to grasp the concept, but I think it's important to realize what our grandparents went through. We shouldn't forget about it." The National Park Service is soliciting comments for the best way to preserve and present that wartime experience at the Minidoka Internment National Monument, Idaho, where 13,000 people were placed.
Deep Throat/Bob Woodward: First, Vanity Fair scooped the Wa Po with the article exposing the identity of Deep Throat. Then USA Today's Mark Memmott scooped the Post with his summary of Bob Woodward's book. Then Woodward gave Tom Brokaw -- not the Post -- the address of the garage where he met with Mark Felt. Woodward doesn't seem to care that his colleagues have had to play catch-up. He says to Erik Wemple: “What was the problem -- some people were late for dinner?"
Middle East Studies: Bloggers are coming to the defense of Professor Juan Cole. They argue that Cole has been the victim of a campaign of smears. Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, runs a blog that is widely read by the media.
NYT's Tom Friedman in Error: Historian Juan Cole has criticized NYT columnist Tom Friedman saying"misleading things" about Islam."[Friedman] wrote in his latest column, 'To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.'" But it's not true, insists Cole, who goes on to cite numerous Muslim clerics who have condemned Osama bin Laden.
Polish Anti-Semitism on the Wane: Today, naked Jew-hatred, to say nothing of praise for the Holocaust (half of which occurred on Polish soil), is increasingly viewed as detestable in Polish society. But at the same time, many Poles continue to regard Jews as an alien race. From President Aleksander Kwasniewski on down, Polish leaders strongly denounce anti-Semitism -- a far cry from the explicitly anti-Jewish stance of the prewar Polish government and the communist regime that ruled from 1945 to 1989. Some Poles persist in seeing Jews as incompatible with"real" Poles. Jews have lived in Poland for nearly 1,000 years; Jewish roots run deeper here than almost anywhere else. But there are still Poles for whom"Jewish" and"Polish" remain mutually exclusive categories.
Supreme Court Justices and Their Health: All senators should commit to a line of questioning that gets around the justices' proclivity for putting a"top secret" stamp on their own medical information. Officials in the other two branches of government routinely release sometimes-detailed health information. Vice President Dick Cheney, for instance, has disclosed details of his heart problems. President Bush issues summaries of his annual physicals. Condoleezza Rice released information about her treatment for uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors in the uterus, last year when she was the nominee for secretary of state. In sharp contrast is the secrecy that Chief Justice William Rehnquist has maintained about his recent treatment for thyroid cancer, and how it may affect his performance on the court. Not surprisingly, legal historian David J. Garrow of Emory University found that a dozen justices stayed on the court for months or years during the 20th century with"mental decrepitude or mentally infirm judgment" that would have led to the speedy retirement of any corporate executive.
Second-Term Blues for President Bush: Presidents tend to hit a stall in second terms, whether mired by hubris, scandal or intraparty divisions, undercut by a united opposition, or hampered by low energy or a lack of new ideas. So said experts gathered Tuesday at the American Enterprise for Public Policy Research to examine the start of President Bush's second four years. David R. Gergen, a White House adviser to four presidents - Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton - said there's an almost uniform sense that Bush's second term"is now joining the pantheon of other unmemorable second terms." On the foreign policy front, the problem remains the so-called axis of evil, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, said David E. Sanger, a reporter for The New York Times. He said the latter two countries pose a bigger threat of having weapons of mass destruction, but Bush has lost one tool - invasion - because the U.S. military now is stretched too thin.
Hitler Sketches: Despite the concerns of German historians and the Canadian Jewish Congress, a set of Adolf Hitler's architectural sketches are to be auctioned onMonday alongside works by artists Andy Warhol and Joan Miro. The four drawings were consigned to the Iegor-Hotel des Encans auction house by an anonymous vendor about a month ago."Architecture was a major factor in the propaganda of the Third Reich," said Peter Hoffmann, a McGill University history professor specializing in German resistance against National Socialism. Max Bernard, honorary vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress's Quebec region, said the political aspect of the architecture is evident in the drawings."It is a (sketch of a) monument of the Nazi regime, which in itself is offensive."
Dispute Over Tasmania's Aborigines: A bitter debate over what it means to be Aboriginal is raging in Tasmania, the island where the first British settlers came close to wiping out the entire indigenous population. But while the last"full-blood" Aborigine died in 1876, left behind were many Tasmanians of mixed race, the result of Aboriginal women being taken as"wives", sometimes forcibly, by white soldiers, settlers and convicts. The fight has pitted Tasmania's main Aboriginal group, known as the Palawa, against a rival clan they dismiss as upstarts, the Lia Pootah. The Palawa claim that Lia Pootah is a made-up Aboriginal name and that its members are white Australians who are only claiming to be indigenous in order to secure generous government handouts.
Week of 7-11-05 THURSDAY
John Kennedy Artifacts: Several artifacts from John F. Kennedy's presidency have arrived at the Kennedy Library and Museum, including a piece of wood from the platform believed to be where Kennedy stood while he took the oath of office in 1961. The artifacts were recovered by the National Archives and Records Administration from the estate of Robert L. White, a collector who obtained them from the president's late secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, library officials said.
Supreme Court Fight: If President Bush picks a Supreme Court nominee from outside the roster of sitting judges, he will be breaking with recent precedent and returning to tradition."You bet," the president said Wednesday morning when a reporter asked him whether he would consider potential nominees who did not have judicial experience. On the current court, only Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist had never been a judge before joining the court. He was serving in the Justice Department as an assistant attorney general when President Richard M. Nixon selected him in 1971. But until the recent past, it was common for Supreme Court justices to be drawn from the ranks of elected officials and distinguished lawyers who had never been judges.
Female Historians: Hiring Records Improve: By many measures, history is a discipline in which women have made notable progress in the last generation. In 1979, women made up only 16 percent of new history Ph.D.’s, and in the 20 years that followed, that percentage rose to 40. But a new American Historical Association report notes the many ways in which progress has been limited. The report was prepared by Elizabeth Lunbeck, a Princeton historian, and mixes a review of data with surveys of women in the field. Both the data and the survey point to lingering problems. For instance, statistics show that by 1988, 39 percent of assistant professors of history were women. But by 1999, only 18 percent of full professors of history were women.
Karl Marx is the Favorite Philosopher of London: Karl Marx is metropolitan London's most revered philosopher. No, this isn't old Soviet agitprop, but the result of a Radio 4 listeners' poll organised by the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg for his series In Our Time. The veteran Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, thinks he knows why. His reasoning is as contemporary as Marx's was visionary."The Communist Manifesto," he says," contains a stunning prediction of the nature and effects of globalisation."
Hollywood's Take on History: The history portrayed in movies isn't a trivial matter; we learn our history from such films. When Hollywood does history it not only often gets it wrong (think of U-571, which suggested Americans rather than the Royal Navy captured the Enigma decoding machine), but makes us more stupid. And why always heroism? Why not memorialise cowardice? If we are to learn from history, we need to recount it warts and all. Hollywood, however, doesn't do warts.
Week of 7-11-05 WEDNESDAY
Lynching & Slavery: In a rare, emotional and historic church service that left many weeping and others transported with joy, South Carolina whites Tuesday openly confessed the sins of lynching and slavery. And blacks forgave. The congregation — 300 blacks and whites — clapped and swayed and hugged and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in rock anthem fashion, with drums and guitars, as they recalled the Abbeville lynching 89 years ago of Anthony Crawford, a prosperous black farmer who dared sass a white man.
Battle of Yorktown/Re-enactors: If the Battle of Yorktown were held today, it would have to be moved. The National Park Service doesn't permit even mock battles on its land, so an organizer of a re-enactment for the 225th anniversary says the group has to look for another site.
IRS History: An official history of Internal Revenue Service investigations, also marked"For Official Use Only" and withdrawn from public access in 1996, has been published online by TheMemoryHole.org. See"75 Years of IRS Criminal Investigation History, 1919-1994."
9/11 Movie About a Terrorist: Variety reports that a movie deal is in the works about a 21-year old lapsed-terrorist’s life. Paramount Pictures has enlisted the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Keir Pearson to turn Abdurahman Khadr's story into a script. Abdurahman’s father, Ahmed Said Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was arrested in Pakistan for his role in bombing the Egyptian embassy. The movie will reportedly find a feel-good lesson in Abdurahman’s journey from bin-Laden’s training camp in Afghanistan, through Guantanamo and Bosnia to Toronto, Canada, where Khadr, has allegedly renounced his terrorist ways and his family's devotion to terrorism. He could earn as much as $500,000 from the film, which will debut in 2006. Critics say there's little evidence he or his family have renounced hostility to America, which makes the movie's sugary storyline hard to swallow.
British Prisoners of War Receive Apology: The UK's veterans minister has apologised to former prisoners of war judged"not British enough" to receive compensation under a government scheme. Around 1,100 British subjects without close blood-links to the UK were ruled ineligible for a £10,000 payout offered to civilians held in Japanese camps.
Japanese History Textbook: A new edition of a Japanese history textbook that has provoked protests in China and South Korea has been adopted by a public school board in Japan. Seven junior high schools in the central town of Otawara will use the book, which has been criticised for distorting Japan's militarist past.
Emails of Historians: Upset after the department of history at the University of Georgia voted narrowly against hiring his wife, a tenured historian of science at UCLA, Alexei Kojevnikov, got hold of records and e-mail messages of his dean, his department chairman, and four of his colleagues. The hundreds of pages of correspondence and notes include salary offers to outside professors, opinions about job candidates' qualifications, and records of tenure decisions and spousal hires. The documents even refer to one administrator's cancer diagnosis. How did he manage to find such sensitive information? He simply asked for it. Like most states, Georgia has an open-records law, or"sunshine law." The controversy has raised racial questions. Kojevnikov asked for the records of 3 black professors and a white lesbian (the chairman is also black). Kojevnikov and his wife have now accepted offers from University of British Columbia but he will remain in Georgia for another academic year.
Week of 7-11-05 TUESDAY
Thomas Jefferson/Christopher Hitchens: Hitchens, the acerbic British polemicist, has written the Jefferson volume in the HarperCollins and Atlas Books series, Eminent Lives, a new series of biographies. In addition to the usual subjects, says the publisher,"Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense."
Bork's Shadow Over the Supreme Court: The beard is gone. Once scraggly and reddish, it had long since turned scraggly and white, and so finally he shaved it off."It was time to go," he said. But if the cleanshaven Robert H. Bork is no longer recognized and approached at airports, his image remains vividly etched in the minds of official Washington. Now 18 years after his fireworks-filled confirmation battle and crushing defeat in the Senate, the long shadow of Bork hangs over another pending court appointment. Remember Bork, both sides cry, with different messages in mind. The battle over Bork began July 1, 1987, when Reagan nominated him to succeed retiring Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. Bork was already well known for his role in the"Saturday Night Massacre"; as solicitor general, he carried out President Richard M. Nixon's order to fire Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox after two higher-ranking Justice Department officials refused and quit. Bork subsequently served as a federal appeals judge, making a mark as an"originalist" who believed in interpreting the Constitution as its framers intended rather than extrapolating it to fit changing circumstances.
Nazi Deportation: Josias Kumpf, 80, faces deportation. The former SS soldier denies killing Jews. 'I was a good boy,' he says -- but tell that to a death camp survivor. In May, Kumpf became the 100th former Nazi successfully prosecuted by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. A federal judge in Milwaukee ordered his citizenship revoked and, should his appeals fail, Kumpf will be deported. The Justice unit was formed in 1979 to identify, hunt down and remove former Nazis who came into the United States after World War II. With a staff of lawyers and historians, the office found Kumpf after matching newfound Axis records and SS muster rolls with U.S. immigration documents.
Apology for Srebrenica Massacre: American and European leaders attending a ceremony on Monday marking the 10th anniversary of the execution of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys here during the war in Bosnia promised that two Bosnian Serb leaders indicted for the killings would be brought to justice. But among the 30,000 Bosnian Muslims who gathered here today, relatives of the dead and others dismissed the promises as empty. During the war in Bosnia, from 1992 to 1995, the United Nations declared Srebrenica the world's first civilian"safe area," stripped its soldiers of their artillery and armored vehicles and promised to protect the enclave. But in July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overwhelmed 370 lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers here, seized control of the enclave and killed virtually every man and boy they captured.
Anniversary of 1st Atomic Test: Saturday will mark the 60th anniversary of the first atomic-bomb test. The anniversary is significant to Billy Ray Anderson and his neighbors in Lamar County, Mississippi because no Americans live closer to a nuclear test site. The 1,052 other U.S. nuclear blasts occurred in sparsely populated sections of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Alaska or in the Pacific Ocean. It was the day the government nuked Mississippi. In the early 1960s, the Pentagon and Atomic Energy Commission feared the Soviets might cheat on a test-ban treaty by muffling a nuclear explosion inside a salt dome. Officials decided to test the theory. Project Dribble would explode two nuclear bombs in Mississippi's Tatum Salt Dome, about 20 miles southwest of Hattiesburg, as a test.
Bush Invokes WW II in War Against Terrorism: President Bush on Monday added the deadly bombings in London to his list of reasons that the United States should aggressively continue pursuing terrorists around the world, and told F.B.I. recruits and marines stationed at Quantico, the FBI training center, that"we will fight until this enemy is defeated." It was the second time in the last week that he has begun to describe the terror groups as having an ideology; in the past the White House has said, in the context of Iraq, that they have nothing to offer the people of Iraq, and no governing philosophy other than attacking the United States and its allies. Mr. Bush used the London bombings to draw a connection between the struggles of World War II, against a more defined enemy, and the battles today."In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed," he said. He added later that"in the cold war, freedom defeated the ideology of Communism and led to a Europe whole, free and at peace."
Civil Rights Movement/US Stamps: Montgomery and Selma will share the spotlight with other key landmarks of the civil rights movement after Aug. 30, when the U.S. Postal Service releases 10 stamps honoring the era. Among the bunch are 37-cent stamps of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of a city bus, and the 1965 Selma march, when 25,000 demonstrators led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
Slavery/Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt University is giving up its long-running court fight to have the name ''Confederate Memorial Hall'' removed from the stone front of a campus dormitory. Chancellor Gordon Gee dropped the word ''Confederate'' from the dorm's name in 2002, citing an effort to create a more welcoming environment. But the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which helped finance the building, sued when the school wanted to physically remove the name from the main entrance. The case reached the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which in May ordered Vanderbilt to either leave the chiseled name alone or reimburse the UDC $50,000.
Supreme Court Nominations: Each time senators asked Sandra Day O'Connor about her views on a specific topic like abortion during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1981, she looked down at a piece of paper that had been prepared for her and read,"I do not believe as a nominee I could tell you how I would vote." This response, known in the Senate as"taking the judicial Fifth," has been recited in one form or another by every recent Supreme Court nominee, and it is almost certain to be used this year by whomever President Bush chooses to replace Justice O'Connor.
First Baseball Card: Baseball historians Henry W. (Hank) Thomas, Kevin M. Keating and Frank J. Ceresi announced today that they have uncovered the first known baseball card, which dates to the early 19th century and predates other known cards by several decades. This historically significant discovery will make its public debut at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 14, 2005.
Turkish Amendment/Armenian Genocide: From now on in Turkey one can speak aloud about the Armenian Genocide of 1915 without being afraid of criminal prosecution. On June 29, the Turkish parliament approved amendments in the criminal code that excluded two points from article 305 which is entitled"offences against fundamental national interests of Turkey". The first point prescribed punishment for calls for the withdrawal of the Turkish Army from Cyprus and the second point that was excluded from the text of the article prescribed legal persecution for the mentioning of Armenian genocide.
Ancient Canals Discovered in Arizona: Archaeologists working at a proposed development site in Mesa say they have unearthed one of the largest integrated canal systems the Hohokam Indians ever built in the Phoenix area. Twenty Hohokam canals, uncovered during an ongoing archaeological survey of the 240-acre site, have been found since October. The largest measures 45 feet wide and 16 feet deep."They are the size of canals in Phoenix today, but these were done with digging sticks and baskets,'' said Tom Wilson, an archaeologist and director of the Mesa Southwest Museum."There are some extraordinary things there.''
Week of 7-11-05 MONDAY
9/11 Oliver Stone Movie: Paramount Pictures announced on Friday that Nicolas Cage will star in a feature film about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center to be directed by Oliver Stone, right. The film, as yet untitled, is scheduled to be released next year and will tell the story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, the Port Authority police officers who were trapped in the wreckage of the towers during early recovery efforts and later rescued. Mr. Cage will portray Mr. McLoughlin. As news of the project spread during the weekend, misgivings began to percolate online about the involvement of Mr. Stone, whose films about John F. Kennedy's assassination and Richard M. Nixon's presidency have been criticized as historically inaccurate and conspiracy minded. Mickey Kaus of Slate wrote on Saturday that"many Americans - including but not limited to a mob of salivating bloggers" will not abide the choice, and asked:"Is Hollywood so out of touch it thinks Stone's version of 9/11 is what America is clamoring for?"
Lincoln Museum: The new $90-million, 100,000-square-foot Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield is doing well."We've had 115,000 visitors in the first two months, which is well above what we expected," says director Richard Norton Smith, who also has headed the Hoover, Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford presidential museums."Every week has been bigger than the week before. And they're coming from all over the world, specifically to see this museum. It's Lincoln; he is certainly the most universally recognized American."
British Diary: It's fine for ex-Downing Street aide Bernard Donoughue to reveal his own secrets, but is he right to disclose other people's for money asks Roy Hattersley in the Guardian. Bernard Donoughue, head of Harold Wilson's policy unit between 1974 and 1976, has published his diaries. It is 30 years since Donoughue worked in Downing Street and his diaries would have received more publicity (and sold more copies) had the minor sensations which they describe been revealed earlier. But he postponed publication until some of the old wounds had healed. Now he has reopened them. Entry after entry chronicles the alleged excesses of the Prime Minister's private secretary, Marcia Williams, now Lady Falkender. Wilson, whom the diaries claim she dominated, is portrayed as a man in deep decline. He can no longer be libelled, but it is possible to betray the dead, say critics.
Low History IQ: Secondary school students in Hong Kong lack a proper understanding of modern Chinese history, according to a survey. A total of 473 Form Four to Seven students in 65 secondary schools were quizzed on their knowledge of Chinese history, from the early 19th century to the present day. They were also tested on the Basic Law and social development theory. Overall, the students scored well - in excess of 70 per cent answering more than half of the 60 multiple-choice questions correctly, as well as more than 80 per cent of all responses in some of the paper's six sections. But when it came to the section on the period following the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949, only 37 per cent of answers were correct. Economic history gave students the most trouble. Traditionally, schools taught China's 5,000-year history in chronological order, but many historians now felt that recent history was the most important."To rectify this, we should require students to learn this history and make it a compulsory part of the syllabus," Hui Chun-lung, president of Hong Kong Teachers' Association of Chinese History Education, said.
Dershowitz v. Finkelstein: The University of California Press will proceed with the publication of a controversial book that attacks supporters of Israel despite efforts by its chief target, the Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz, to block the book's release. The press's intentions were announced on Friday by its director, Lynne Withey. The book, Norman G. Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, examines the evidence of human-rights groups, such as Amnesty International, and the writings of pro-Israel commentators to expose what the introduction terms"the vast proliferation of sheer fraud masquerading as serious scholarship" on Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. Mr. Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University, describes Mr. Dershowitz's 2003 book, The Case for Israel (John Wiley & Sons), as"among the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict." The final changes to Beyond Chutzpah center on specific phrases concerning plagiarism and its definition."There was a question about how to raise the issue of plagiarism without incurring very costly litigation," Mr. Finkelstein said."What they asked me to do, and what I agreed to do, was provide the Harvard definition of plagiarism and reiterate my own findings in the appendix and let readers judge for themselves." (subscribers only.)
Mount Rushmore: A crew began a project last week to wash the granite faces of Mount Rushmore to remove decades of dirt, grime and lichens that can damage the complexion of the four presidents. The job could take five weeks. Gutzon Borglum carved Mount Rushmore in blocks of granite that contained cracks. His maintenance plan called for filling them with white lead, linseed oil and granite dust. In 1991, the monument switched to a silicone sealant, and National Park Service workers dangle from harnesses each year to fill the cracks. But lichens still develop in crevices, producing an acid that can damage the faces.
Bay of Pigs/CIA History Disclosed: An internal CIA history of the Bay of Pigs has found its way into the public domain as one of the beneficent effects of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Most internal CIA histories are routinely withheld from disclosure, regardless of their age. But apparently because the Bay of Pigs history touched on the question of assassination policy, it was caught up in the broad sweep of the JFK Act and declassified. The document was located at the National Archives by Prof. David Barrett of Villanova University, who copied the 295 page volume and posted it on his web site.
Trotsky: One of history's most infamous murder weapons, the ice pick used to kill Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, has apparently resurfaced after being lost for decades. The revelation comes just weeks before the 65th anniversary of Trotsky's assassination on August 20, 1940. But tests that could prove the weapon's authenticity have been delayed by a dispute between the ice pick's owner, who is shopping it around, and Trotsky's descendants, who want it donated to a revolutionary museum -- proving that the struggle between socialist ideals and capitalism is continuing. The ice pick is in the possession of Ana Alicia Salas, whose father apparently removed it from an evidence room while serving as a secret police commander in the 1940s.
Austrian Compensation for Nazi Victims: The speaker of Austria's parliament yesterday proposed speeding up compensation for victims of Nazi atrocities, appealing for quick consensus to give help to aging and destitute survivors. Parliament Speaker Andreas Khol's initiative reflects Austria's increasing interest in settling the Nazi compensation claims. The proposal won backing from all of the country's major parties, who are likely to formally consider the issue when they return from their summer break in September.
Spielberg Movie/Munich Massacre: A drama about the 1972 Munich Olympics where Black September Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes is being filmed by Steven Spielberg, who is courting controversy by concentrating on the bloody aftermath as the murders were avenged. The material is so delicate that the project, which is being filmed in Malta, is shrouded in secrecy. For while movies like 1977's Raid on Entebbe, starring Peter Finch and Horst Buchholz, portray Israel in a heroic stance, the new picture is about the misgivings of Golda Meir, the then Israeli prime minister, as agents from Mossad tracked down the perpetrators. The film, with Eric Bana as the lead Israeli assassin, is expected to feature the killing of the Palestinian Mohammad Hamshiri, who answered his phone in Paris to fall victim to a radio-detonated bomb under his desk, and the death of Mohammad Boudia, the director of operations for Black September, in a car bomb explosion.
WW II/Housing Boom: On the eve of National Commemoration Day, marking the end of the Second World War, Caroline McGhie looks back at the devastation wrought by German bombs and the housing revolution that followed. It has, she says, remarkable echoes today:"
Teaching the Holocaust: Six decades later, the Holocaust remains a painful and emotionally draining topic _ and a special challenge for middle school and high school teachers who have to instruct students about one of the most horrific episodes in human history. Despite its importance, Holocaust scholarship is still just beginning to work its way into history lessons in much of the country, and teachers volunteering to tackle the subject often find themselves developing courses from scratch, without much formal training. To become better versed teachers attended a five-day program on the Holocaust at Columbia University last week. It was sponsored by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which began in 2000 to bring schoolteachers from around the country to seminars with top historians as part of a campaign to improve teaching about Holocaust.
Obituary: James Haskins, an educator who in seeking to make up for the dearth of children's books on black historical figures ultimately became one of America's most prolific children's book authors with more than 100 works of nonfiction to his credit, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 63. No cause was given, but his family said he had suffered from emphysema.
Obituary/Samuel Proctor: People around the state of Florida are remembering the life of former University of Florida history professor Samuel Proctor. Proctor spent 50 consecutive years teaching at the university as a distinguised historian and author. Historians in 1998 named him one of the 50 most important Floridians of the 20th century.
Historians to Investigate German Foreign Ministry: Five historians will be serving on an independent commission to investigate the Nazi past of Germany's Foreign Ministry, the government said Monday. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said three historians from Germany and one each from the United States and Israel would examine the history of the ministry from 1933 to 1945. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer announced the probe on May 5. The panel will be composed of Eckart Conze, Norbert Frei and Klaus Hildebrand from the universities of Marburg, Jena and Bonn respectively, Henry Turner from Yale University, and Moshe Zimmermann of the Hebrew University. The commission, which will first meet in September, will also examine to what extent ex-Nazis continued to work for the Foreign Ministry after World War Two ended in 1945, and look at the ministry's efforts to deal with its own past.
Tombstone Could Lose Historic Status: Tombstone, the famous Old West town in southern Arizona, could lose its status as a National Historic Landmark after decades of violating historic preservation building codes. The Department of Interior has listed the so-called"town too tough to tie" on its threatened list, the highest warning level. A popular tourist destination, Tombstone's historic integrity has declined into a blend of authentic history and fake Old West ambiance, federal and state officials said.
Serbia's Amnesia: TEN years ago this week, Serbian forces slaughtered more than 7,000 Muslim men in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Despite the efforts of a dedicated few in Serbia, and despite the war crimes prosecutions at The Hague, Serbia is no closer today than it was a decade ago to reckoning with its war guilt. Fewer than half of Serbs polled last spring believed the Srebrenica massacre took place.
Himmler Files Confirmed as Forgeries: New disclosures about forged documents at the National Archives emerged yesterday as officials in Kew formally confirmed that documents in its files about Heinrich Himmler, recently identified as bogus by The Daily Telegraph, were counterfeit. The first set of five forged papers were used by the historian Martin Allen to support allegations in his book Himmler's Secret War that the head of the SS did not commit suicide, but was murdered by British intelligence agents.
Chinese Civilization Had Multiple Origins: It is a popular idea that the cradle of Chinese civilisation is in the Yellow River valley about 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) northeast of Chengdu, and matured there before gradually spreading southward. If nothing else, this traditional concept of history is supported by ancient myths about the Yellow Emperor and other early rulers, held dear by many Chinese. Since the discovery of the Sanxingdui civilization, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Jinsha excavation site, it is now clear that Chinese culture had multiple origins and did not, as previous generations of historians confidently believed, follow a simple path from just one single source.
Lewis & Clark: Native Americans helped Lewis and Clark survive their long trek to Oregon with food, horses and directions, and now they're breathing life into the expedition's anemic bicentennial. In its third year, the national bicentennial has failed to draw the national sponsors or millions of tourists that supporters predicted. But national organizers say the commemoration has succeeded in making Native Americans major players in events along the route, just as they were 200 years ago when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark made their journey."What has worked best is the inclusion of multiple perspectives . . . getting people to think about Lewis and Clark in a new way," says Karen Goering, executive director of the National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial."The American Indian perspective, the people who helped (Lewis and Clark), the aftermath and consequences -- that is the new part of the story."
Greenpeace Ship Sunk by Order of Mitterrand: A former head of France's spy agency claimed that the late President Francois Mitterrand approved the sinking of a Greenpeace ship in a New Zealand harbor 20 years ago, according to a French newspaper report. A man was killed and the case turned into an embarrassment for Paris. Top officials in France were fired in the aftermath, but Mitterrand's exact role has been unclear. In its Sunday-Monday edition, daily Le Monde published extracts of a 23-page, handwritten account by Adm. Pierre Lacoste, the former head of DGSE spy agency, in which he says that Mitterrand authorized the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland's port. The ship was preparing for a protest at sea against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific when the explosion ripped open its hull and the vessel sank. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira died.
Filmmaker Doing History Documentary Released in Iraq by US: After being held for more than seven weeks in solitary confinement in an American military prison in Iraq, Cyrus Kar, an aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles, was freed Sunday in Baghdad, exhausted and hungry but relieved that his ordeal was coming to an end. With help from independent producer Philippe Diaz, Kar began working on a documentary about the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great. He interviewed experts and shot of footage at archaeological sites in Afghanistan and Iran, according to his family and Diaz.
Srebrenica Massacre Remembered: Bearing Bosnian and Bosnian-Muslim flags, some 500 Bosnian Muslim men completed their solemn retracing of the route taken by an estimated 15,000 Muslim men during the war in Bosnia. They had fled the town of Srebrenica in panic in July 1995, after lightly armed United Nations peacekeepers failed to protect them from advancing Serb forces. The Serbs killed more than 7,000 of the fleeing Muslims in ambushes and mass executions that war crime judges later declared genocide. On Sunday, the column of Muslims marching through the woods here were again surrounded by hundreds of armed Serbs, but on this day the Serbs were police officers assigned to protect the marchers. Zoran Rosuljas, a Serb policeman who shook hands with one of the marchers along the route, said it was"no problem" guarding Muslims 10 years after the three-year war that killed more than 200,000 people. Asked if he felt comfortable with his former enemies, he swiftly responded."Why not?" he said."Why not?" 50,000 people are expected to participate in a memorial on Monday.
World War II/London Attacks: Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday expressed the nation's admiration, gratitude and respect for the generation that fought and won World War II, as thousands turned out on a glorious summer day to mark the 60th anniversary of the conflict's end. The scenes of marching bands, flag-waving crowds and the royal family gathered on the balcony of Buckingham Palace betrayed no hint of a city still recovering from deadly terrorist bombings three days earlier.
Week of 7-4-05 FRIDAY
Sandra Day O'Connor: Newsweek puts O'Connor on the cover and provides a history of her 24 years on the Supreme Court.
David Irving/Holocaust Denier: The Atheist Law Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama, announced last week that it was hosting a Wednesday appearance there by the noted Holocaust denier, David Irving:"British historian David Irving, an expert on World War Two, the NAZI era and erosion of rights of a Free Press and Free Speech will speak at the Prattville Holiday Inn.... Those persons wishing to attend are expected to purchase a meal from the restaurant. ... Irving's topic will be, 'The Lipstadt Trial Five Years On: Its Methods and Achievements.' This is the breathtaking inside story of Irving's British High Court action against an Atlanta professor, Deborah Lipstadt for libel in England, and how she fought back with money poured in by the usual enemies of Free Speech."
Historians Fingered by David Horowitz: HNN Cliopatria blogger Ralph Luker has provided a list of the historians targeted by David Horowitz's DiscoverTheNetworks.org. The list of more than 40 historians includes Juan Cole, Eric Foner, Glenda Gilmore, Gabriel Kolko, and David Montgomery.
London Attacks/Historian Nearby: TOM Devine, the Scottish historian, narrowly escaped becoming a victim of the blasts. The director of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at Aberdeen University was staying within 100 yards of the blown-up bus. He slept in and said last night:"Somebody was looking after me." Professor Devine said that, if he had he been on schedule leaving his hotel, in the Russell Square area, he would have been caught up in the horror."When I woke up, I turned over for a few minutes and fell back asleep. I didn't have an alarm. I was intending to go round the corner to the Tube station."
Slavery: No child should leave the sixth grade in Wisconsin without having heard the name Joshua Glover. That is the thought of local historians promoting a national design competition to create a monument at Milwaukee's Cathedral Square in honor of Glover. He was a runaway slave freed when 5,000 Wisconsin citizens used a battering ram to break down the door of Milwaukee's courthouse jail in 1854. The act brought national attention to Wisconsin, which later became the only state to declare unconstitutional the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which was used to jail Glover. The act required that all slaves found in free states be returned to bondage. The defiance put Wisconsin on a lone page of civil disobedience. Today, it's"the kind of history other communities and states would kill for and they can't have because there's only one state that did it. That's Wisconsin," said George Gonis, president of Joshua Glover Monument/Cathedral Square Inc.
London Attacks: A bomb explodes at King's Cross Station, gushing flame and debris, followed by a blast inside another station nearby, wreaking havoc through Britain's capital city. The year was 1973. The bombings were part of a string that rocked London's trains and subways over a three-year period. Yesterday's coordinated blasts, one of which also occurred at King's Cross, may have been the city's most devastating attacks since World War II, but London has been in the crosshairs for decades. Long before Sept. 11, its transit system, financial center, stores and major wharf had been bombed, its commuters and shoppers bloodied, mostly by the Irish Republican Army, as in the 1973 attacks."Londoners have lived through this sort of thing before," Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative Party, told the BBC."These people will not get their way."
Bush/Impeachment: President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.
Lynching: Local churches Local churches in Abbeville, South Carolina will hold a reconciliation service next week to apologize for not trying to stop racial strife decades ago, including the 1916 lynching of a wealthy black farmer. During Tuesday's service, white church leaders will confess the sins of their ancestors and apologize to the black community for events such as the death of Anthony Crawford. His great-great-granddaughter praised the ministers' plan. Ministers representing the black community will accept the apology and extend forgiveness in return, said the Rev. Wendell Rhodes, the pastor of Friendship Worship Center in Abbeville and organizer of the event. The idea for the service came when Crawford's lynching was prominently mentioned during the US Senate's formal apology last month to the descendants of victims of lynchings.
Deep Throat: Tom Brokaw's interview with Bob Woodward for the NBC special about Deep Throat.
London Terrorist Attack/Disaster and the Economy: Ned Davis Research in Atlanta, Ga. has tracked the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, America's blue-chip stock index, after 36"tragic" events between the First World War and the Iraq War in 2003, and has found that most tragic events over the past 90 years haven't sent equity markets into a long-term funk, which might explain why investors saw this latest terrorist attack in London, despite the tragedy, as a buying opportunity. Prior to the bombings in London, investors had been rattled by a litany of shocks, including Sept. 11, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the resignation of Richard Nixon, Russia's launch of the Sputnik satellite during the Cold War, Pearl Harbor in 1941 and other disastrous or just disconcerting events. In each case, stocks usually sold off in the immediate aftermath, but rebounded solidly, if not spectacularly over the next year.
HBO to Turn McCullough's John Adams into Mini-series: More than a month after expecting a final decision, the Virginia Film Office waits anxiously to find out whether the HBO John Adams mini-series will be shot in Williamsburg and other Virginia sites. The HBO mini-series will be produced by Playtone, Tom Hanks' company."This project is currently a 10-part series and the scope of it as described by HBO and Playtone is roughly on the scale of three feature movies," said Colonial Williamsburg spokesman Tim Andrews, who said that is the main reason for the delay. The John Adams mini-series is based on the book written by popular historian David McCullough. But Adams isn't the only McCullough book that Playtone will produce. The production company also optioned"1776," currently the top New York Times best-seller for non-fiction. It is unclear whether"1776," which documents George Washington's leadership as the colonists fought the British, will be a movie or mini-series.
Armenian Genocide/France Fines Encyclopedia Publisher: A Paris court found the famous French encyclopedia The Quid guilty of printing the Turkish view on the so-called"Armenian genocide". The court fined The Quid encyclopedias a symbolic indemnity payment of one euro. According to the court decision the 2003 and 2004 editions of the encyclopedia, the Turkish version of events were presented on the Armenian claim and the opinions mentioned by the 'denying historians' were given as if they were definite information. The court concluded that the Turkish opinion was handled more extensively in the encyclopedia.
Rare Monk/Coltrane Recording: A recording that was discovered in January at the Library of Congress by jazz specialist Larry Appelbaum, tentatively titled 'Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane: 1957 Concert,' is due in stores Sept. 27. Jazz historian and Blue Note consultant Michael Cuscuna tells Billboard magazine that the find is"unbelievable" because Coltrane and Monk only played together for six months."For decades people have speculated on how the group sounded after they developed," Cuscuna says."But all you had until now was an oral history."
Orpheus Statue Discovered in Bulgaria: A rare statue of the ancient Thracian hero Orpheus has been unearthed in Bulgaria, near a place archaeologists say might house the hero's tomb, the leader of excavations said. The 9cm (3.5in) bronze statue, dating from the 1st or 2nd century AD, was found in the village of Tatul, 200 miles south-east of Sofia, an archaeologist, Nikolai Ovcharov, said.
Ancient Humans Blamed For Mass Extinction: The first humans to arrive in Australia destroyed the pristine landscape, probably by lighting huge fires, the latest research suggests. The evidence, published in Science magazine, comes from ancient eggshells. These show birds changed their diets drastically when humans came on the scene, switching from grass to the type of plants that thrive on scrubland. The study supports others that have blamed humans for mass extinctions across the world 10-50,000 years ago.
Week of 7-4-05 THURSDAY
Prime Minister's Diary: Australian PM JOHN Howard keeps a diary - and he's not afraid to use it. The Prime Minister has 30 years of notes loaded with intimate observations on political life. And he is seriously considering putting them into a book when he leaves Parliament. The contents of the Howard diaries, which the Prime Minister privately refers to as an"aide memoire", are one of the best kept secrets in Canberra. Even some of his closest staff are not aware of them.
Australian PM Claims He's on Side of History: After decades of allowing Labor and Labor historians free rein to build heroic myths and legends around ALP leaders and exploits, the Liberals are hitting back. JOHN Howard has entered the political history wars. Howard has declared the Liberal Party has been on the"right side of history" and grabbed some historical turning points for the Liberals and himself. The Prime Minister has also set his trip to Washington next week against a wider strategic backdrop through his challenge to ALP historical orthodoxy.
Berlin Wall: The German parliament approved a plan last week to build a memorial to the wall at the Brandenburg Gate, in the heart of the city. Stephan Hilsberg, one of a group of MPs who proposed it, said:"I never thought that the wall would disappear as it has done. I think the city government has been almost criminally neglectful in how it has dealt with the legacy of the wall. It can't do much at Checkpoint Charlie now because it's sold the land there." (Search required)
Military Museum: A military history museum envisioned in Colorado will never be, its directors said Wednesday. The Colorado Military History Museum Inc., a band of World War II veterans' children who wanted to honor the nation's military history, abandoned its plans, saying that public interest was insufficient to support the project.
Lynchings: The Wa Po has published a series of articles about lynching in conjunction with the Senate resolution condemning the Senate's own refusal to make lynching a federal crime. One article recalls that Mark Twain once called the nation"The United States of Lyncherdom." The NAACP was formed in response to a lynching. The B'nai B'rith organization created the Anti-Defamation League in reaction to a murder case that later led to the lynching of a Jewish man. At the turn of the 20th century, at least 100 lynchings were being reported each year. In 1892, a record 230 people were lynched, including 160 blacks. Click here and here and here.
JFK Assassination: THESE ARE EITHER historicpanes - or a major pain for historians. The purported windows in one of the most tragic moments in American history - the assassination of President John F. Kennedy - go up for auction next week. Aubrey Mayhew claims that in the past he's turned down offers of $1 million for the sixth-floor windows where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots that killed Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The former Nashville music producer says he removed the entire casement from the Texas School Book Depository. He owned that infamous Dallas landmark 40 years ago."We have no outside authentication," Mayhew's spokesman, Will Faller, conceded. But, he added,"there is no reason to doubt." Barry Landau, owner of the most extensive collection of inaugural memorabilia outside the Smithsonian Institution, is skeptical."I talked to my Secret Service sources and they told me everything was confiscated from that room, even the window frames," he said.
Kennewick Man: Nine years after college students stumbled across a human skull on the banks of the Columbia River, Kennewick Man's secrets are about to be unearthed. A team of 11 top anthropologists will gather in Seattle this week to begin the first comprehensive studies of the skeleton that touched off a bitter struggle between scientists' quest for knowledge and Native Americans' reverence for their ancestors. The researchers have already conducted high-resolution CT scans of the skull and pelvis that will help them learn about the ancient man's origins and the healed-over spear point embedded in his right hip. Next, they will try to figure out whether he was buried, or simply swallowed up by the mud.
Duke Student Accused of Smuggling Artifacts: The preliminary investigation into the attempt of Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin Eftan Turkyelmaz to smuggle Armenian ancient manuscripts to Istanbul on June 17 is carrying on. Turkyelmaz, 33, a student of Duke University in North Carolina, was detained at the Yerevan airport while trying to get on the board of a plane bound for Istanbul with a bag of books dated from the 17-20 centuries. The Turkish Foreign Ministry and Duke University are working for the release of Turkyelmaz. The website of the University informs that Turkyelmaz was working for his doctor's degree in cultural anthropology. The young historian who is highly spoken of is doing his research in"Creation of Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian national parties in Turkey in 1908-1930".
France Claims Colonialism Was Positive: France and other European countries are claiming, either officially or through historians, that colonialism was a positive thing. In a law passed on Feb. 23, the French parliament, dominated by President Jacques Chirac's right-leaning Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), demanded that teachers at schools all over the country and textbooks emphasise"the positive role (played by) France overseas, especially in the Maghreb region" in North Africa. This move sparked debate among French historians, politicians, teachers, and representatives of former colonies, especially Algeria.
Disneyland Turns 50: In the 50 years since Walt Disney flung open his gates on July 17, 1955, more than 500 million"guests" have stepped through his portals, willingly surrendering to his fanciful notion that"Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy." Disney's vision has transformed not just Anaheim, but the American consciousness. His creation was a story he would tell Americans about themselves, about"the essence of the things that were good and true."
Iraqi Historic Sites: Iraq's rich cultural heritage continues to be stripped of archaeological sites in the countryside while in Baghdad, the doors of the Iraq National Museum, the fifth most important in the world, remain closed to the public because of fears that its treasures could be stolen in a raid by the well organised antiquities mafia. Dr Macguire Gibson of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago asserted:"The Americans are not doing anything [to prevent pillage in Iraq], they went into Iraq with too few troops and did nothing to stop looting as soon as the regime fell. Once it began, it became impossible to stop it. The Italian and Dutch contingents are trying to help but they can do very little. We have reports that Muqtada Sadr [the powerful Shiite cleric based in Kufa] is getting a cut. There was a fatwa [clerical ruling from Najaf] condemning looting but there was a counter-fatwa from Iran saying that looting pre-Islamic items is acceptable. Looting has become such an industry that in towns like Samawa and Nasiriya, truck drivers take groups of people to sites in the morning and take them back in the afternoon. US and other foreign troops could stop the looting if they confiscated or destroyed the trucks carrying looters to and from sites."
Iraq War/Librarians Urge Withdrawal: The Council of the American Library Association (ALA) has passed a resolution that calls for the withdrawal from Iraq of all U.S. military forces and a return of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq. The resolution passed June 29 during the annual conference of ALA in Chicago.
Russian Stonehenge: Archeologists discover another Stonehenge in the Russian city of Ryazan, according to Pravda. The construction is a circle of seven meters in diameter hedged in with wooden columns each half a meter thick, at the same distance from each other. There is a large rectangular hole in the center of the circle and a pole. The wooden columns were destroyed but one can clearly see the round holes where they used to stand. It is said to be around 4,000 years old.
Slavery Reparations/Lawsuit Thrown Out: A federal judge dismissed a wide-ranging reparations lawsuit brought by descendants of slaves, concluding Wednesday that the courts are not the place to correct centuries-old wrongs inflicted on millions of people. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle's ruling all but closed the door on the reparations movement's most aggressive and wide-ranging effort to date to win compensation through the courts, narrowing future legal options and pushing the debate toward the political arena. But supporters of the reparations cause said it only increased their determination. The lawsuit was a combination of several separate cases brought by descendants of slaves seeking monetary damages from modern-day corporations with historical ties to businesses the plaintiffs said had profited from slavery. Eventually the suit named 17 major corporations as defendants, with 19 plaintiffs.
Deep Throat/William Gaines: William Gaines, the journalism professor whose class wrongly fingered Deep Throat (first, Patrick Buchanan, then Fred Fielding), says that there were discrepencies in Woodstein's accounts that misled them: 1. Mark Felt was said to have smoked a cigarette in Woodward's presence, even though he gave up smoking decades earlier. 2. Deep Throat provided authoritative information gleaned from listening to Nixon’s secret recordings during a meeting in November 1973. That was several months after Felt left the FBI. And to complicate things still more, no one from the FBI had been at the meeting where the recordings were played. According to Gaines, that means Felt could only have learned about the contents of the recordings at third hand, at best. Felt was, as Gaines put it in an e-mail note, “"so far removed that his comments to Woodward would have to be considered hearsay, and not the kind of thing a reporter could write for fact by quoting an anonymous source.”
Obituary/L. Patrick Gray: L. Patrick Gray III, the former acting director of the F.B.I. whose misplaced trust in Richard M. Nixon and early missteps in handling the Watergate investigation made him a lasting victim of a scandal he ultimately helped to expose, died yesterday at his home in Atlantic Beach, Fla. He was 88. The cause was complications of pancreatic cancer, his family said. In his Senate confirmation hearings in 1973, Mr. Gray volunteered what amounted to the most dramatic public indication to that point that the president's men were covering up the Watergate break-in, when he disclosed that he had supplied the F.B.I.'s files on the investigation to the White House counsel, John W. Dean III, from the outset of the inquiry. That revelation rocked Washington and spurred Senate investigators to dig deeper. It also led Nixon's aide John D. Ehrlichman to propose, in one of the era's most famous phrases, letting Mr. Gray"twist slowly, slowly in the wind" until he resigned a few weeks later. He endured his fate in stoic silence for more than 30 years, in which he was often portrayed as a feckless footnote to the greatest political scandal of the age. But last month, after his former deputy, W. Mark Felt, acknowledged that he had been Deep Throat, the Washington Post's secret Watergate source, Mr. Gray at last spoke out about his profound betrayal and bitterness when he began to realize that the president he sought to serve so loyally was corrupt."I made the gravest mistake of my 88 years" in going to work for Nixon, he told ABC News.
Week of 7-4-05 WEDNESDAY
Living History Museum/Conner Prairie: Earlham College will no longer manage Conner Prairie, a living-history museum created by Eli Lilly, according to a tentative agreement that the Indiana attorney general's office and the college signed on Tuesday. Conner Prairie has tried to split with Earlham for several years, but negotiations stalled because the two parties disagreed about who would control assets that were donated by a philanthropist and supposed to benefit both the college and the museum. Under the agreement, which is subject to the approval of the Hamilton County Superior Court, the museum is to get about $94-million of the assets, which are now worth more than $175-million. The remainder would go to the college, which is located in Richmond, Ind.
Voting Patterns: Contrary to the widely held belief among political scientists that political attitudes and ideologies are shaped exclusively by environmental factors, genetics also plays a substantial role, say three political scientists. Inheritance is important in creating political views, but less important in forming party identification, argue John R. Alford, an associate professor at Rice University; Carolyn L. Funk, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; and John R. Hibbing, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Using data taken from studies of twins, the authors compared the number of times that fraternal twins agreed with one another on a range of political questions to the number of times that identical twins agreed with one another on the same questions. Based on the results, the authors concluded how much of a factor genes play in forming each political attitude. Attitudes toward school prayer and property tax were heavily influenced by genetics, they determined, while attitudes toward abortion and divorce were less influenced. A person's affiliation with a political party, like his or her identification with a specific religious group, is"shaped more by socialization and almost not at all by genetics," they write. (Summary by Chronicle of Higher Education)
Supreme Court Activists: A Yale law school professor--Paul Gewirtz--joined by a fresh graduate of the school, have published the results of a study of the Court which by one measure astonishingly shows that Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia are activist justices. Here is the question they asked:"How often has each justice voted to strike down a law passed by Congress?" They explain that this is a sound measure of activism because"Declaring an act of Congress unconstitutional is the boldest thing a judge can do." The current Court, in tact since 1994, has struck down or upheld 64 measures of Congress. At the top was Thomas, at the bottom Breyer. The list: Thomas 65.63 %; Kennedy 64.06%; Scalia 56.25%; Rehnquist 46.88%; O’Connor 46.77%; Souter 42.19%; Stevens 39.34%; Ginsburg 39.06%; Breyer 28.13%.
Week of 7-4-05 TUESDAY
World Trade Center Museum Controversy: Plans for the World Trade Center site call for the opening of the International Freedom Center in 2009, along with related cultural facilities. The museum would pay homage to those who died Sept. 11, but it mainly would tell the story of the fight for freedom around the world. A multimedia tour would detail human rights conflicts throughout history, including slavery in America, the Soviet gulag system and the struggles of Chinese dissidents. The museum is being developed by a nonpartisan group of academics, cultural historians and other experts, but it came under fire last month, when planning details emerged and critics, including family members, rallied against it. Those now in opposition are angered by disclosures that some museum consultants and developers had publicly criticized the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees at the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Israel Refuses to Extradite Accused War Criminal: Israel has refused for a second time to extradite to Poland a Jewish man accused of crimes against German prisoners just after the end of World War II, prosecutors said Wednesday.Polish prosecutors received the refusal in a letter from the Israeli Justice Ministry saying"there was no basis whatsoever to extradite" Solomon Morel, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, prosecutor Ewa Koj told The Associated Press. Morel commanded a communist-run camp for German prisoners in southern Poland in 1945 after Soviet troops had occupied the country. Polish authorities accuse him of genocide by seeking to exterminate German prisoners by starving them to death, depriving them of medical care as well as carrying out torture and sanctioning torture by his subordinates.
London WWII Bomb Damage Maps: Official maps illustrating the scale of bomb damage to London in World War II are being published for the first time. Damage caused by bombing raids and V1 and V2 missile attacks are illustrated in 110 maps, published in a book to mark the 60 years since the war ended. The maps were created in London County Council's architects department to show the severity of damage to individual buildings across 117 sq miles of London.
Chronicling Old English Literature: Literature written in Old English did not die on the battlefield at Hastings, as many believe. Researchers at the University of Leeds will soon be embarking on a project entitled, The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220, which aims to demonstrate that written English was far from dead in the late 11th and 12th centuries."There's as much evidence of written English - more, in fact - from the 12th century as from the 10th," says Elaine Treharne, one of the research leaders."So the first aim of the project is a detailed catalogue of everything that exists from that period, so we'll be able to refute the myth that Old English died in 1066."
German Publisher of Himmler's Secret War Jailed: The German publisher of a book which claims that British intelligence officers murdered Heinrich Himmler is a Right-wing extremist who has been jailed for publishing revisionist history. The claims, in"Himmler's Secret War," by Martin Allen, have been debunked by an independent forensic analyst working on behalf of The Daily Telegraph. The analysis showed that at least four of the documents used to substantiate them were forgeries smuggled into the National Archives in Kew, west London. Almost all historians accept that Himmler, the head of the SS, committed suicide soon after being captured by British soldiers in May 1945.
Romanian Royals Seek Israeli Help To Block Restitution: A Romanian royal couple is trying to enlist Israel's help in their campaign against a decision taken last week by the Romanian parliament to pay restitution to the former King Michael I, now 85, who stripped Jews of their rights in 1940. The property of the king's family had been nationalized under the communist regime."We are calling for the establishment of an international investigative commission that will look into this affair and award the money to Jewish causes," Romanian Prince Paul Lia said in a press release issued Saturday.
WWII Japanese Chemical Warfare Camp: China claims to have found the site of a vast chemical warfare camp used by Japan for human experiments in advance of a planned invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The China Daily, a state-run newspaper, published photographs yesterday of what it said were circular gas chambers in an otherwise featureless grassland area. The newspaper wrote:"The Japanese used Chinese people as human guinea- pigs to develop poison gas." Xu Zhanjiang, a researcher with the Harbin Municipal Academy of Social Sciences in Heilongjiang, the northeast Chinese province, said:"It may be the largest and best- preserved gas experiment site in the world."
Week of 7-4-05 TUESDAY
Africa/Blame for Poverty and Oppression: "Europe is to blame for Africa today"--that is the headline over a column in the Glasgow Herald, which says:"Despite the glib and visceral anti-Americanism which is so prevalent at present, it was the British, the Belgians, the Portuguese, the Germans and the French who were the archcolonisers in Africa. The Americans were never significant colonisers. Secondly, and more importantly, did we, the colonial powers, not do the biggest damage of all by the incompetent manner in which we disengaged? The last significant African state that Britain decolonised was Zimbabwe. The old Southern Rhodesia should be one of southern Africa's success stories, but it is now a desperately sorry country, plundered and abused by a repellent tyrant."
Comic Book History of the American Revolution: Ernie Colón, a comic book artist who has drawn both Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich has written a comic book history of the Revolution focusing on Long Island. Over 16 pages, the comic book tells the story of the Revolution, from Washington's defeat in 1776 at the Battle of Long Island to the peace treaty in 1783 and a researcher's discovery in 1930 of the identity of a Patriot spy. It also includes a sample coded message and instructions for making invisible ink. The comic book is on sale for $4 at the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, NY.
"American Gothic" Painting: "American Gothic" may not be America's most famous painting, but it is certainly the most familiar. For all the thousands of words written about it, all the hundreds of parodies, spoofs, advertisements and other appropriations of it, though, it has never had a book of its own until now:"American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting," by Harvard historian Steven Biel. As an experiment, Professor Biel polled a class of 60 Harvard sophomores to see if they could name the painting and the artist. Half knew the title; five, the painter. But all of them had seen it often.
US Flag/Smithsonian Preservation Project: The seven-year effort to preserve the faded glory of America's most famous flag is nearly complete. The Star-Spangled Banner will never wave again, but thanks to an $18.6 million conservation and education project, it has a good chance of being around for at least another century. In a softly lit, climate-controlled room of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, technicians in white lab coats and surgical scrubs are finishing work on the 30-by-34-foot banner — one painstaking stitch at a time — that will give the tattered flag a new lease on life. The setting is a far cry from the simple Baltimore brewery where, in 1813, flag maker Mary Young Pickersgill and her 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, worked"many nights until midnight" to assemble the flag — a job that netted them $405.90. Congress has authorized $3 million. The rest of the money, including $10 million from Polo Ralph Lauren and $5 million from the Pew Charitable Trusts, is from private sources.
Genghis Khan: "Genghis Khan wasn't really a bad guy," Elbegdorj Tsahkia, Mongolia's prime minister, said with a grin."He just had bad press." Tsahkia was only half joking during a recent interview. Since Mongolia emerged from the Soviet Union's shadow in the early 1990s, the lore and myth surrounding the khan, the original bad boy of history, have captured the imagination of this country. A popular and official movement to reassess Genghis Khan's marauding image is being marshaled by admirers who say he was a truly great, if irascible, ruler."He is like a god to us," said Bat-Erdene Batbayar, who also goes by the name Baabar, a historian and adviser to Elbegdorj."He is the founder of our state, the root of our history. The communists very brutally cut us off from our traditions and history and got us to adopt the ways and views of Western civilization with a red color of course, but still Western. Now we are becoming Mongols again."
History as Animals Might Write It: With women's studies and African-American studies established on campus, a new breed of historian speaks for that most voiceless group - animals. Thirty years ago, in an attempt to parody the new social history,"Charles Phineas" (a pseudonym) wrote a mock essay in which he proclaimed that the history of household pets remains too much the history of their masters, revealing more about the owning society than the owned. Little did Professor Phineas imagine that a new generation of historians would eventually produce scholarship that addressed his mock complaint. No doubt Fox News and Rush Limbaugh will have a field day with this one, but in fact animals have their own subjective history, too. A few cutting-edge historians have begun to argue that animals are not just beasts of burden, material resources or wild threats to the spread of civilization, to be domesticated, eaten or exterminated by human beings. Instead, animals behave in ways peculiar to their own identity, and their independent actions impact human history in sometimes surprising ways. In the catchphrase of the history generated by the 1960s, animals have agency. If racism long distorted the way historians discussed the history of African-Americans (as it did),"speciesism" does the same for the way humans have written about animals.
Checkpoint Charlie Memorial Demolished: A demolition crew began taking apart a memorial at Checkpoint Charlie, one of Berlin's most visited tourist sites, after the bank that owns the land sued to remove the field of black crosses commemorating each of those who died trying to escape East Germany. The owner of the site, BAG Bankaktiengesellschaft Hamm, says that the memorial is illegal and is preventing the bank from selling the land. Alexandra Hildebrandt, widow of the founder of the privately owned Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie and the manager of the memorial, campaigned to keep it, supported by Berlin's opposition Christian Democrats and groups of victims of the former East German government.
Bob Woodward: The Wash Post, somewhat awkwardly, uses Bob Woodward's memoir of his relationship with Deep Throat to profile Woodward himself--and explain what the book tells about this most-reticient of reporters:"To read"The Secret Man," -- along with"All the President's Men," Woodward and Bernstein's mesmerizing 1974 book on their Watergate reporting -- is to notice that Woodward wasn't afraid to challenge Felt's rules. He telephoned Felt when he really needed to. And during his very first visit to the underground garage, at a point where his source had suddenly stopped talking, the reporter 'grabbed his arm and said we were playing a degrading chickenshit game pretending that he was not passing original, new information to me.'"
Plagiarism/MBA Students: Two senior academics formerly with Australia's University of Newcastle engaged in corrupt conduct in their handling of a major plagiarism case, a government commission ruled last week. The case involved 15 business students at an offshore campus in Malaysia. In December 2002, Ian Firns awarded a grade of zero to each of the 15 students, who were then enrolled in an M.B.A. program at Institut Wira, a private operation in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, for which Newcastle provided academic oversight. Mr. Firns failed the students after discovering that large amounts of their material in an organizational-effectiveness examination had been lifted without attribution from the Internet. But the public university responded to his discovery by reassigning the disputed papers to another lecturer, who passed the students. What's more, it was later revealed that some of Mr. Firns's earlier, critical markings on the papers had been whited-out. The latest inquiry found that both the former head of the Graduate School of Business, Paul Ryder, and his former deputy, Robert Rugimbana, had"engaged in corrupt conduct" by ordering the students' essays to be remarked without any reference to Mr. Firns's concerns.
Ward Churchill: Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart recently announced a series of policy changes at Hamilton, largely directed at the Kirkland Project, the academic unit at the college that invited Ward Churchill. The project has been directed to review its mission and programs — and it has been given an unspecified (but significant) budget cut for the coming academic year. Churchill, meanwhile, continues to be on the speakers’ circuit and continues to offend. The latest flare-up came in a talk he gave last week in Portland, Ore., to an antiwar group. In his comments, he appeared to endorse “fragging.” The Denver Post reported that he said, “Conscientious objection removes a given piece of the cannon fodder from the fray. Fragging an officer has a much more impactful effect.” Churchill says he was quoted out of context.
Supreme Court Appointments: As President Bush prepares to fill a vacancy that conservatives hope (and liberals fear) could shape the Supreme Court for a generation, he faces a daunting historical reality: presidents don't always get what they bargain for when they grant even seemingly close allies lifetime tenure on a fiercely independent institution, where the hot-button issues of the future are hard to predict.
Justice O'Connor Opened Up Opportunities For Women: When President Ronald Reagan decided to nominate Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman ever to the Supreme Court in 1981, he did not have a lot of other women to choose from. The bench, one might say, was not deep. A look at the courts shows the breadth of change across the quarter of a century bookmarked by Justice O'Connor's nomination and her retirement. In 1981, Mr. Reagan's first year in office, there were almost 700 active federal judges, and 48 were women, some of them semiretired. Today, according to the Federal Judicial Center, there are 201 women and 622 men among active federal judges.
40,000 Year Old Footprints in Mexico: Human footprints discovered beside an ancient Mexican lake have been dated to 40,000 years ago. If the finding survives the controversy it is bound to stir up, it means that humans must have moved into the New World at least 30,000 years earlier than previously thought."If true, this would completely change our view of how and when the Americas were first colonised," says Chris Stringer, head of human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, UK. But like several US experts, he is reserving judgement until the dates can be independently confirmed.
Week of 7-4-05 MONDAY
Louis Hartz Anniversary/Liberal Tradition: The NYT Book Review is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Louis Hartz's pathbreaking book, The Liberal Tradition in America, with an essay by Alan Wolfe:"An Ohio-born and Nebraska-raised Jew who spent his entire professional life at Harvard, Hartz received instant recognition for his book, which won the American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Prize in 1956. Hartz influenced scholarship dealing with national identity, the role of the United States in the world and the idea of ''American exceptionalism.'' Before him, American political thought was viewed through the lens of conflict: Jefferson versus Hamilton, the North against the South, progressives in tension with standpatters. But for Hartz, all such disagreements took place within a broad consensus about American values. His lesson was simple: no ideology outside that consensus -- in particular, not that European import called Marxism -- could flourish on these shores. .... Hartz got the large picture astonishingly right."
Obituary/Historic Sites: Brian C. Pohanka, whose passion for the Civil War led him to a prominent role in starting the recent movement to preserve Civil War battlefields, died on June 15 at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 50. The cause was melanoma, said his wife, Marylynne, who is known as Cricket. In 1987, Mr. Pohanka, an enthusiastic, well-costumed re-enactor of battles, convened some of the first meetings of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, a group that became the Civil War Preservation Trust. It now has 70,000 members and has saved thousands of acres of former battlefields from development."Some kid a hundred years from now is going to get interested in the Civil War and want to see these places," Mr. Pohanka said in an interview with The Washington Post in 1990."He's going to go down there and be standing in a parking lot. I'm fighting for that kid."
Paul Harvey's Defense of Horrors: In a radio address the conservative commentator Paul Harvey, citing Winston Churchill--"We didn’t come this far because we are made of sugar candy"--said this on Thursday:"Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and into this continent by giving small pox infected blankets to native Americans. Yes, that was biological warfare! And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever. And we grew prosperous. And, yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. And so it goes with most nation states, which, feeling guilty about their savage pasts, eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded, and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry and up and coming who are not made of sugar candy."
WW II/Forged Documents: One of Britain's leading historians has called for a criminal investigation into the" contamination" of The National Archives after The Daily Telegraph showed that forged documents had been smuggled into files in the building. Andrew Roberts, a biographer of Winston Churchill, said:"There must be prosecutions. The police must go through all the evidence and find out who has done this and prosecute with the full weight of the law." The documents, which purported to show that British intelligence officers murdered Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS in Nazi Germany, in 1945, were exposed as fakes by a forensic examination conducted by a leading specialist on behalf of the newspaper. The papers had apparently been slipped into existing archive folders before being read by Martin Allen, a writer working on a book about Himmler and his contacts with wartime British intelligence agencies.
Supreme Court Nominations: A confirmation hearing for the next nominee to the high court is expected in September. The surprise is that until the 1950s nominees didn't usually testify. Hearings began not in the early Republic but in the battle over Jim Crow. In the 1950's, the Southern Democrats who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to require every nominee to appear in person in order to grill them about Brown v. Board of Education.
Walt Whitman Anniversary: The untitled poem that came to be called"Song of Myself" was first published in"Leaves of Grass," which appeared for sale on the Fourth of July 150 years ago. The Whitman who celebrates himself finds it easy enough to stay ahead of us, who perhaps sometimes feel that life, as he puts it, is"a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at the end but threadbare crape and tears." That is what really keeps Whitman out in front after 150 years: the America he inhabits in"Leaves of Grass." We have not gotten to it yet.
Gallup Poll/Iraq & Vietnam: A Gallup survey shows 53% consider the war to remove Saddam Hussein"a mistake," the same proportion saying that about Vietnam in August 1968; such assessments of Vietnam never dropped below 50% thereafter. But Bush's 45% job approval rating remains 10 percentage points above President Johnson's then. Independent pollster Zogby finds no"bounce" for Bush after Fort Bragg speech, which drew low ratings for a network TV address. Roughly 26,000 messages have been posted on the Web site he mentioned, www.americasupportsyou.mil. (WSJ: search required)
Poland/Russia: History is at the heart of current difficulties Russia and Poland are having. The Poles say, not without a certain pride, that they are the only ones ever to occupy the Kremlin. That was in the early 17th century, almost 200 years before Napoleon and 300 before Hitler failed in their attempts to do so. In Moscow not long ago, the national day celebration was switched from Nov. 7, commemorating the Bolshevik Revolution, to Nov. 4, when the Russians rid the Kremlin of the hated Poles. The most immediate cause for trouble was Poland's joining the EU last year. Then several history disputes broke out. In May, the Polish president, Mr. Kwasniewski, was invited to Moscow for the 60th anniversary celebration of the end of World War II, but he was given what the Poles regarded as intentionally conspicuous second-class treatment. Mr. Putin not only relegated Mr. Kwasniewski to a back row among the visiting dignitaries, he also did not acknowledge Poland as a wartime ally, much less apologize for the Soviet Union's anti-Polish pact with the Nazis of 1939, or mention what Mr. Kwasniewski called a half-century of"Stalinist repression" of Poland. All of these omissions were duly noted in Poland. Poland was outraged over an official Russian commission into the massacre of thousands of Poles at Katyn in Ukraine by Stalinist troops in 1940. For years, the Soviets maintained that the Nazis committed that crime. The commission decided that the massacre was not a crime against humanity or a war crime but an ordinary criminal act. The Poles were outraged anew when the Russians then refused to open their archives to a Polish commission of inquiry.
Good Old Days/Standard of Living in US: Most Americans in the first three decades after World War II, took a rising standard of living for granted. Are they going in reverse now? Living standards actually almost never go backward, at least not in a material sense. Indeed, the economy today is growing, consumer spending is plentiful and new technologies - from the Internet to laparoscopic surgery - make life better than ever, as they do in every generation. BUT for many families, the trajectory is no longer the steadily upward line that the Rath family enjoyed. Instead, the line appears to be climbing erratically. After 20 years of very small gains, the rate of improvement surged from 1995 to 2000 - only to fall back toward zero over the last four years, a reversal that puzzles analysts.
Kansas Town Founded by Slaves: Nicodemus was home to some 600 black settlers, mostly former slaves from Kentucky. It was among the first towns planned by blacks, drawn here by wildly exaggerated handbills telling"all colored people that want to go to Kansas" of"the finest country we ever saw,""pleasing to the human eye" with nine months of summer. Now the number of residents stands at 22. The dugouts are long gone, but some of the homes look so old, it is easy to mistake them as one of the five designated historical buildings in town. Nicodemus, in northwest Kansas, was designated a national landmark in 1976 and fell under the oversight of the National Park Service in 1996. It prides itself as a place of living history, with all of its residents able to link themselves, through blood or marriage, to the founding settlers. (NYT feature.)
Low History IQ: A poll testing Canadians' knowledge of their country's economic history turned up some dismal results. Only one person of the 1,000 tested got all 20 answers correct. The average score was eight right. The survey, in honor of Canada Day on Friday, was sponsored by Dominion Institute and TD Bank Financial Group and was conducted June 13-17 by the Innovative Research Group. It was the worst Canadians have ever scored on the survey. (Questions and answers provided.)
Anniversary/French & Indian War: The 250th anniversary of General Braddock's defeat spurs his namesake town's residents to keep alive memories of the battle and its aftermath, when one could see"men's bones lying about as thick as the leaves do on the ground."
Week of 6-27-05 FRIDAY
Obituary/Oliver Jensen: Oliver Jensen, a founder and former editor of American Heritage magazine, died early yesterday morning in Chester, Conn. He was 91 and had lived in Old Saybrook, Conn., for many years. With Joseph Thorndike and James Parton, Mr. Jensen founded American Heritage in 1954. The three men, all former staff members at Life magazine, aimed to create a general-interest publication that presented American history in the accessible style of popular newsmagazines. Oliver Ormerod Jensen was born in Ithaca, N.Y., on April 16, 1914. He earned a bachelor's degree from Yale in 1936, and during World War II served in the United States Naval Reserve.
Endurance of the Mao Myth: Horribly outnumbered, poorly armed and constantly under attack, 80,000 Communist fighters set out on foot from a base in China's southeastern Jiangxi Province in October 1934 hoping above all to avoid getting wiped out by their Nationalist enemies. One year and 5,000 miles later, after countless acts of extraordinary courage along the way, the 6,000 survivors of the Long March, led by Mao Zedong, limped into this dusty town in the arid yellow hills of northern Shaanxi Province. Last year, nearly four million Chinese followed in their wake - as tourists, not revolutionaries. Without much else to work with, The modest city of Yenan, all but bypassed by the industrial revolution sweeping China, enthusiastically promotes some of the most resonant founding myths of the country's Communist republic. These days, eager visitors crowd the revolutionary museum here to look admiringly at large black and white photographs of the last stages of the Long March, to buy Mao trinkets or to pose for pictures in front of the rustic cave dwellings that served as residences for Mao and other top leaders from 1935 to 1947, when this city was the Communists' main base. Marxist ideology is said to have little relevance in today's China. But all over this city, people can be overheard trading admiring stories about the heroism of Mao's army or celebrating the spirit of Yenan, as much a name for that 12-year period as for the city itself.
Nuclear Weapons: Since late 1950, when British Prime Minister Clement Atlee worried that President Truman might use nuclear weapons in the Korean War, the British government has sought commitments from American presidents that they would not launch nuclear strikes without first consulting London, according to declassified documents posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive.
Federal Records in the Electronic Age: David Talbot complains that NARA's crash data-preservation project is coming none too soon; today's history is born digital and dies young. Many observers have noted this, but perhaps none more eloquently than a U.S. Air Force historian named Eduard Mark. In a 2003 posting to a Michigan State University discussion group frequented by fellow historians, he wrote:"It will be impossible to write the history of recent diplomatic and military history as we have written about World War II and the early Cold War. Too many records are gone. Think of Villon's haunting refrain, 'Ou sont les neiges d'antan?' and weep....History as we have known it is dying, and with it the public accountability of government and rational public administration." Take the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, in which U.S. forces removed Manuel Noriega and 23 troops lost their lives, along with at least 200 Panamanian fighters and 300 civilians. Mark wrote (and recently stood by his comments) that he could not secure many basic records of the invasion, because a number were electronic and had not been kept."The federal system for maintaining records has in many agencies--indeed in every agency with which I am familiar--collapsed utterly," Mark wrote.
Trafalgar/Nelson Victory Anniversary: Call yesterday's festivities here marking the greatest naval victory in British history what you want: commemoration, anniversary, demonstration, celebration - something honoring one of the country's proudest moments, the victory over the French and Spanish navies in the Battle of Trafalgar. Just don't say the British were gloating. There could be trouble. In fact, in typical British fashion, the country managed to hold an extravagant mock battle at sea yesterday without ever mentioning that the ships on the winning side were British and that the losers represented the French and Spanish routed in 1805 by the one-eyed, one-armed Adm. Horatio Nelson."We heard there were some political considerations about how the re-enactment would be portrayed," said Jan C. Miles, captain of the Pride of Baltimore II, one of 167 vessels on hand from around the world for the commemoration."That's a battle I wouldn't want to address."
Russians Consider Banning Jewish Book: When Rabbi ZinovyL. Kogan arrived at the Moscow city prosecutor's office recently, investigators grilled him for two hours about an allegedly incendiary text published by his religious organization. The suspect work? A Russian translation of a 19th-century book of rules governing Jewish life. By printing thousands of copies of Kitzur Shulhan Arukh and distributing them through Jewish religious schools, Kogan had angered Russian nationalists.
Falklands War: Britain's decision to sink Argentina's Belgrano cruiser during the Falklands war was a military one and not a political move by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a new official history of the 1982 conflict argues. It was argued at the time that Thatcher ordered the sinking, with the loss of 321 Argentinian lives, to stop a peace plan. But in The Official History of the Falklands Campaign, historian Lawrence Freedman said the decision resulted from the fact Britain felt vulnerable to an Argentine attack. He noted Britain would have preferred to have sunk an aircraft carrier but had been unable to find one.
Da Vinci: Art curators have uncovered a new Leonardo Da Vinci drawing hidden beneath the surface of one of the Renaissance artist's most celebrated works, Britain's National Gallery said on Friday. Da Vinci painted two versions of"The Virgin of the Rocks" between 1483 and 1508. London's picture has long been regarded as an inferior copy of the original now in the Louvre in Paris. National Gallery curators found the uncompleted drawing while researching how Da Vinci copied his original, using infrared scanning to see through layers of paint on the London picture.
Knives: Museums and swordsmiths have warned that Scottish Executive proposals to increase the legal age for buying a knife to 18 and to criminalise the carrying of a knife or sword are impractical and will be detrimental to the remembrance of historical events. The executive consultation proposes that the sentence for carrying a knife should be doubled and that police should be able to arrest a person they suspect is carrying a knife.
9-11 TV Series: NBC has dropped plans for a miniseries based on the report of the 9-11 commission, while ABC has indicated it plans to go ahead with its own series. The ABC project will be executive-produced by Marc Platt, of"Legally Blonde" fame. The NBC series was to have been led by Graham Yost, who helped write the"Band of Brothers" HBO series.
Lynching: It was like a family reunion, except that the people sharing food and fellowship in a makeshift dining room at the U. S. Capitol were not related. They were bonded instead by a common history -- a heritage of pain born when their ancestors were beaten, tortured, burned at the stake and hanged. They were descendants of lynching victims. My first reaction, seeing the other descendants, was a little like surprise, because for some reason, I had always thought that my family was in a vacuum, that this was something that had happened to just us," said Betty Greene of Detroit, whose great-uncle Richard Puckett was lynched in Laurens, S.C., in 1913."To see how many other people and families had been affected, and in all the different ways, was very powerful." The descendants, some 200 strong, had come to Washington at the invitation of a group of civil rights activists to meet two national lawmakers on a mission to right a wrong perpetrated against Greene's great-uncle and many others decades ago -- the U. S. Senate's refusal, on several occasions, to make lynching a federal offense.
David McCullough Testifies: David McCullough told senators at a hearing on history that one of the central problems in the teaching of history is that teachers who possess degrees in education rarely possess the needed subject matter expertise to teach specific subjects such as history. He stated that history majors make the best history teachers because they are able to communicate a love of history to students. He also called on colleges and universities to place renewed emphasis on the importance of a liberal arts education. McCullough also stated that, with some notable exceptions, history texts are often written in a style far to boring to interest students; he called for a renewed effort to emphasize the"literature of history." McCullough then returned to a familiar theme that he often raises in his appearances before congressional committees -- that it is important for teachers to focus on narrative history to reach students. McCullough minced no words when he pointed out the detrimental impact that the"No Child Left Behind" initiative -- with its emphasis on math and English testing -- is having on the teaching of history. Finally, he called on the committee to explore ways that school teachers can benefit from the superb educational opportunities that exist at the historic sites and places administered by the National Park Service. The national historical parks, stated McCullough, needed to be better tapped"as educational resources especially as locations for summer institutes and workshops."
Sandra Day O'Connor/Swing Vote: In interviews, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor routinely dismissed the notion that she was a crucial"swing vote," the justice who could sway the nation's highest court one way or the other. Every vote on the court is equal, she would say, no one counting more than any other. She could afford to scoff. But the litigants and their lawyers could not. In fact, they crafted their arguments carefully with her in mind, scouring all her writings to make sure they addressed any specific concerns she might have, believing that if they won her, they were considerably more likely to win the case. It wasn't because she was intrinsically more important than the others. Rather, as she once said, she was"open to persuasion" while some others were not. (Wa Po)
Deep Throat/Woodward Book: What Woodward reveals about Deep Throat in"Secret Man": One tidbit ... Mark Felt did smoke during their clandestine meetings, possibly out of nervousness. Bob Woodward's"The Secret Man" isn't due out until next Wednesday, but a USA Today reporter bought it Thursday at a store in Fairfax County, Va., that had mistakenly put copies out for sale. Mark Memmott writes:"Woodward suspected at the time of his reporting on Watergate that someone from the Post was leaking information about his sources to the White House. It was never discovered who the leaker might have been, but the information led the White House close to identifying Felt as one of Woodward's sources."
Charles Brockden Brown Mystery Solved: The independent scholar Peter Kafer believes that the Walking Purchase--a scandal in which 18th century white settlers in Pennsylvania hoodwinked Indians out of 1200 square miles of land--is the dark but true history behind one of the first Gothic novels ever written in America, Edgar Huntly, by Charles Brockden Brown. Kafer sees references to the fraud in the 1799 novel’s geographic details and in its plot, which involves Delawares who have turned inexplicably violent. Once Kafer makes its case, it is hard to disagree. The incredible thing is that it took two centuries for Brown’s fiction to yield its secret. Charles Brockden Brown is the undisputed father of American horror. He is famous as the first professional writer in American history.
Iraq/Al Qaeda Connections: Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer for the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, is chiding CNN for claiming in newscasts that there's no evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda had ties:"The CNN claims are wrong. Not a matter of nuance. Not a matter of interpretation. Just plain incorrect. They are so mistaken, in fact, that viewers should demand an on-air correction. But such claims are, sadly, representative of the broad media misunderstanding of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, regularly chides the Bush administration for presenting what he calls fabricated or 'fictive' links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The editor of the Los Angeles Times scolded the Bush administration for perpetuating the 'myth' of such links. 'Sixty Minutes' anchor Lesley Stahl put it bluntly: 'There was no connection.' Conveniently, such analyses ignore statements like this one from Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission. 'There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.'"
Henry Kissinger Regrets India Comments: Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has expressed regret over anti-India comments he made to former US President Richard Nixon."The Indians are bastards," Mr Kissinger said shortly before the India-Pakistan war of 1971, it was revealed this week. Mr Kissinger, 82, has now told a the private Indian television channel NDTV that his comments did not reflect American policy during the 1970s."I regret that these words were used. I have extremely high regard for Mrs Gandhi as a statesman," he said.
Deep Throat/Secret Almost Given Away in 1976: The identity of Deep Throat, The Washington Post's key Watergate source, was almost revealed nearly three decades ago, according to Bob Woodward's new book on his relationship with W. Mark Felt. In"The Secret Man," to be published next week by Simon & Schuster, Woodward -- now a Post assistant managing editor -- writes that he learned in 1976 from then-assistant attorney general Stanley Pottinger that Felt, who had been the No. 2 man at the FBI, had given himself away while testifying before a grand jury. Asked,"Were you Deep Throat?" Felt initially said,"No," but his stunned look alerted Pottinger to the probability that he was lying. In that grand jury proceeding, Woodward writes, Pottinger quietly reminded Felt that he was under oath. He then offered to withdraw the question as irrelevant to the subject of investigation, which was illegal break-ins conducted by the FBI in pursuit of antiwar radicals from the Weather Underground. Felt quickly accepted the offer. Pottinger told Woodward, who didn't confirm his conclusion, that he would keep his knowledge to himself."To his eternal credit," Woodward writes, he did just that.
History Carnival #11 Is Now Live: Brandon at Siris has posted the 11th edition of the History Carnival, a showcase of weblog posts about history, historiography and history teaching.
History Education in US: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the Senate Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee Chairman, are attempting to mandate history testing in an effort to make history a priority before renewing national education legislation. A 2001 National Assessment of Educational Progress in U.S. history and civics showed that American students are failing to grasp the significance of people, places and events of history. Charles E. Smith, director of the National Assessment Governing Board, said the test revealed that only 18 percent of fourth graders and 11 percent of 12th graders showed above-basic knowledge of U.S. history. He said 57 percent of 12th graders tested below basic levels.
Newton's Notes on Alchemy Found: A collection of notes by the 17th century English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, that scientists thought had been lost forever, have been found. The notes on alchemy were originally discovered after Newton's death in 1727 but were lost after they were sold at auction in July 1936 for 15 pounds ($27). They were found while researchers were cataloguing manuscripts at the Royal Society, Britain's academy of leading scientists.
Week of 6-27-05 THURSDAY
University Professors and David Horowitz: A week ago, 28 higher education groups issued a statement on “academic rights and responsibilities” that was designed in part to prevent David Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights” from gaining more support in Congress or state legislatures. The idea was to show that colleges — despite what Horowitz says — care about fairness and intellectual diversity. No one is coming out against fairness and intellectual diversity. But the American Federation of Teachers — which represents 130,000 faculty members — is not happy about the statement (even if it doesn’t object to the words in it). AFT leaders say that the statement will invite Congress and legislatures to weigh in on higher education in inappropriate ways. In addition, they worry that the joint statement gave legitimacy to Horowitz, whose views have offended many academics.
Mexican Stamps Called Racist: The Mexican government issued a series of stamps yesterday depicting a dark-skinned Jim Crow-era cartoon character with greatly exaggerated eyes and lips, infuriating black and Hispanic civil rights leaders. Mexican postal officials said the five-stamp series features Memin Pinguin, a character from a comic book created in the 1940s, because he is beloved in Mexico. A spokesman for the Mexican Embassy described the depiction as a cultural image that has no meaning and is not intended to offend. Leaders of the NAACP, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League denounced the image in strong terms, calling it the worst kind of black stereotype. The curator of a Michigan museum that collects Jim Crow memorabilia said the Memin Pinguin caricature is a classic"pickaninny" -- a black child, oafish and with apelike features.
Iran Hostage Crisis: A quarter-century after they were taken captive in Iran, five former American hostages say they got an unexpected reminder of their 444-day ordeal in the bearded face of Iran's president-elect. Watching coverage of Iran's presidential election on television dredged up 25-year-old memories that prompted four of the former hostages to exchange e-mail messages. And those four realized they shared the same conclusion - the firm belief that President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been one of their captors."This is the guy," said a former hostage, Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Ga."There's no question about it. You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him."
Mao's Crimes: The WSJ reports that China has banned the June issue of its sister publication, The Far Eastern Economic Review, for carrying a review of a book that reveals the extent of Mao's crimes during his 1949-1976 rule."Mao: The Untold Story" is by Jung Chang, author of"Wild Swans," the 1990s best seller that introduced readers world-wide to the horrors of Mao's 1967-76 Cultural Revolution. Her new book is co-written with her husband, the historian Jon Halliday. It was reviewed for the Review by Jonathan Mirsky, whose reporting in his days as East Asia editor for the Times of London is well remembered in Beijing. The China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation -- the official distributors of foreign publications in China -- last week informed Dow Jones, publishers of the Review and this newspaper, that inclusion of the book review would keep the June issue of the monthly magazine off newsstands.
Lincoln Memorial Video Controversy: The National Park Service sought out footage of" conservative - right-wing demonstrations" to revise the video shown to visitors at the Lincoln Memorial after being pressured by conservatives who complained the display implied Abraham Lincoln supported abortion, homosexuality and liberal causes. Park Service documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show officials purchased video of President Bush, pro-gun advocates and pro-Iraq war rallies and also considered removing images of Democratic former President Clinton at the memorial. Click here for the AP video version of this story or click here to view the Park Service's video that has sparked the controversy.
Week of 6-27-05 WEDNESDAY
Anthropology Association Reverses Itself on Two Censures: Members of the American Anthropological Association, weighing in on a dispute that has divided their discipline, voted 846 to 338 to rescind a controversial 2002 report on allegations of research misconduct by scholars studying the Yanomami people. In another referendum, members of the association voted overwhelmingly to rescind the censure of Franz Boas, one of the discipline’s founders, who was denounced by his colleagues in 1919 after he criticized anthropologists who served as spies during World War I.
Cuba/Robert Kennedy: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sought to lift the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba in December 1963, according to declassified records posted today by the National Security Archive. In a December 12, 1963, memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Kennedy urged a quick decision"to withdraw the existing regulation prohibiting such trips." Kennedy's memo, written less than a month after his brother's assassination in Dallas, communicated his position that the travel ban imposed by the Kennedy administration was a violation of American freedoms and impractical in terms of law enforcement. Among his"principal arguments" for removing the restrictions on travel to Cuba was that freedom to travel"is more consistent with our views as a free society and would contrast with such things as the Berlin Wall and Communist controls on such travel."
Nixon & Kissinger/India Was a Soviet Stooge: President Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger saw India as a"Soviet stooge" during the South Asia crisis of 1971, downplayed reports of Pakistani genocide in what is now Bangladesh, and even suggested that China intervene militarily on Pakistan's side, according to startling new documentation from White House files and tapes contained in the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series and reposted today by the National Security Archive.
Algeria Memorial/French Colonial Past: Plans to inaugurate a memorial to four executed members of the Secret Armed Organisation (OAS) -- the diehards who resorted to terrorism nearly 50 years ago to stop Algerian independence -- have sparked new arguments about how France should remember its colonial past. A group representing OAS veterans has won authorisation from the right-wing mayor of Marignane, a town a few miles outside Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, to unveil a bronze statue dedicated to"Fighters shot by firing-squad or otherwise killed so that French Algeria could live."
Trail of Tears: Several lawmakers demanded on Wednesday that the Interior Department do a better job retracing the Cherokees' route along the Trail of Tears."The Trail of Tears is a tragic story, but it is very much an integral part of American history," said Rep. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican who introduced legislation late Tuesday seeking a comprehensive review of the trail."We need to document it better. We need to interpret it better." The Trail of Tears Documentation Act would direct the Interior Department to review the new evidence and complete the historical picture through markers and other forms of recognition.
Kremlin to"Relocate" the Russian Archive: After 170 years of inhabiting the buildings that housed the pre-revolutionary Senate and Synod, Russia's largest and oldest archive, containing 6.5m manuscripts documenting history from Peter the Great to the Bolshevik coup, is being evicted by the Kremlin. It will be moved to a new location on the outskirts of St Petersburg, while the grand 18th-century buildings designed by an Italian architect to house the archive will be handed over to the presidential administrative department, a powerful organisation that inherited most of the property used by the Central Committee of the Communist party, including sanatoriums, hospitals and hotels. Prominent Russian historians and writers say the “relocation” of the archive is the most disturbing, though by no means the only, example of the ambivalent attitude to history in Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Expelled Germans/Poland: About 15 million Germans were expelled from eastern Europe after the second world war. Now some are demanding their homes back. Poland's accession to the EU last year has merely brought back old fears. Warsaw remains anxious that wealthy Germans might exploit EU enlargement to buy back the land and property they lost in 1945.
Mein Kampf: A world-wide upsurge of anti-semitism has meant that sales of Mein Kampf are again booming. A signed copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf fetched £23,800 at auction a couple of weeks ago. Mein Kampf is this year's bestseller in Turkey. One Ankara bookseller gleefully observed:"Turks love this kind of read." Mein Kampf is still available in the UK and the US, and sells enough to keep itself comfortably in print. Germany, by contrast, has - since 1945 - rigorously banned it. Israel, unsurprisingly, also favours suppression. In 1999 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre prevailed on Amazon not to dispatch copies of Mein Kampf to Germany or anywhere else it is proscribed.
Nukes Present in Falkland Islands War: British ships carried nuclear weapons to the Falkland Islands during the 1982 war with Argentina because there wasn't time to unload them before setting off, according to an official history of the conflict published Tuesday. The British government confirmed two years ago that the nuclear depth charges had been carried by the task force. Britain had no intention of using the weapons, but it proved impossible to remove them as the ships were hastily dispatched to the South Atlantic after Argentina invaded the islands, Prof. Lawrence Freedman writes in The Official History of the Falklands Campaign.
Trafalgar Celebration: Today's commemorations of the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar were"watered down" to avoid upsetting allies, its organiser admitted today. Plans were altered to prevent the 200th anniversary events of Britain’s naval victory offending the French and Spanish, both of whom sent huge aircraft carriers to take part.
Japan and South Korea/Joint History Studies: Japan and South Korea will soon start a second round of joint history studies. This time, a special panel will be set up to examine history textbooks used in both countries in an effort to mend bilateral relations based on a recent agreement between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun.
Pres. Bush's Speech/Vietnam Similarities: In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sought to rally Americans behind the Vietnam War two months after a major Viet Cong offensive on the Vietnamese Tet holiday, a violent outburst that moved public opinion against the war. There are some striking rhetorical similarities between that speech, which Johnson delivered from the Oval Office, and Bush's speech Tuesday night at Fort Bragg. Bush was careful to acknowledge the terrible sacrifices, and to avoid overly optimistic phrases such as"mission accomplished'' that have left him open to criticism in the past. Still, his insistence that the best way to"honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission,'' reminded some of the words used to advance an unpopular war a generation ago.
Obituary/Thomas Clark: Thomas Clark, a historian who lived long and came to be valued as a state treasure in Kentucky, died yesterday. He was 101 and would have been 102 July 14. Gov. Ernie Fletcher directed that flags at the state Capitol be lowered to half-staff in Dr. Clark's honor. He encouraged officials at other state agencies to lower flags as well. Dr. Clark was hospitalized with a hip infection several weeks ago, and was struggling with complications. But, until very recently, he was writing, editing and making plans for a multitude of projects. He was a native of Mississippi, but came to Kentucky as a young man and stayed for more than 75 years. He taught history at the University of Kentucky for 37 years, building a history department that developed a national reputation, especially in Southern history.
Week of 6-27-05 TUESDAY
Nazi Rebels: A group of rebellious teenagers who formed a resistance network against the Nazis are being honoured after almost 60 years of neglect by the German authorities, who considered them no better than common criminals. The Edelweiss Pirates, as they were known, were working class teenagers from western Germany who fought the Hitler Youth and helped resistance groups, risking imprisonment and death. The Gestapo declared the group criminals in the 1940s, a tag which was allowed to remain for 60 years.
The American West: Today, at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Britain, an exhibition opens called The American West, which aims to explore the heroic myth from the days of the trappers to today's political and corporate cowboy culture. Curator Richard William Hill, of Cree-Canadian descent, describes his skittering, kitsch-gathering trip through the American west in search of cowboy and Indian culture for this exhibition as"Gonzo curating". It's good this exhibition is happening in Warwickshire: if it were somewhere in the real American west, not many local people would be interested. In the real west people see only those qualities that fit the limited concept of individual freedom, independence, toughness and pioneer"spirit".
Nazis/Tried & Convicteds: Ten former Nazi officers were sentenced to life by a military court in Italy on Wednesday for their role in the wartime massacre of 560 civilians in a small village near Florence. The defendants, all in their 80s and living in Germany, were also sentenced to pay legal costs. However, none of them were expected to go to prison as German law does not allow for their extradition. Officials and survivors in Italy were nevertheless relieved at the news that a verdict had been reached."We were not seeking revenge, just justice. And after 61 years, justice has been delivered," Mayor Michele Sillicani was quoted as saying as he summed up the mood of his fellow villagers.
Holocaust/Writing About: Although the work of the Polish journalist Hanna Krall is billed as nonfiction, it is not surprising that the title story in her collection ''The Woman From Hamburg'' appeared as fiction in a recent issue of The New Yorker. Krall's distinctive style could be called Holocaust gonzo journalism. She reports the basic facts but adds a novelistic twist, weaving her interviews into elegant, multilayered narratives. In Madeline G. Levine's subtle translation, Krall's deceptively artless prose speaks of real events with the power of fiction -- creating a mysterious fusion she acknowledges in her story ''Salvation'': ''My work as a reporter has taught me that logical stories, without riddles and holes in them, in which everything is obvious, tend to be untrue. And things that cannot be explained in any fashion really do happen.''
Anthropologists Under Fire: THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION has voted to rescind its acceptance of a 2002 committee report that reviewed allegations that two prominent American anthropologists had committed serious misconduct in Brazil and Venezuela between 1967 and 1990.
Hillary Clinton: Tim Rutten on Ed Klein's"The Truth About Hillary":"The problem with the serious news media's handling of books like this one is that too many organizations and writers allow themselves to be drawn into reporting or analyzing 'the controversy.' In the process, all the prurient allegations ...no matter how preposterous, are dragged into print so they can be denounced. Whatever the intention, the practice becomes essentially a form of journalistic laundering. The way to handle 'The Truth About Hillary' responsibly is to give it no further notice, no wider discussion. Silence."
NYT/McCarthyism: Fifty years ago this week, one of Melvin Barnet's old friends identified him as a former communist. His son, Michael Cross-Barnet, writes:"On July 13, 1955, in Room 135-A of the Senate Office Building in Washington, my father tersely recounted his past. He said he had not been a communist since 1942. But when asked about other people, his lips were sealed." Barnet was fired from the New York Times."His career in journalism was over -- he was 40," writes Cross-Barnet, a Baltimore Sun editor."It is unfortunate that the Times fired my father for refusing to name names half a century ago. But the country was in the grip of fear and, as a new generation of Americans learned after 9/11, fear is a powerful emotion. What is more puzzling, and in a way more disturbing, is that 50 years later the New York Times won't admit its mistake."
Obituary/Shelby Foote: Maybe now the Civil War can finally be over. He had his own internal conflict. He wanted to be known as a novelist but will forever be remembered as the author of a sweetly written, three-volume narrative history of the Civil War and as a television star because of his bourbon-voiced contributions to Ken Burns's PBS series on the war. His novels were good: His Civil War history was everlasting. He made the war interesting on TV because he looked and sounded like he had been there. (Wa Po)
Obituary/Shelby Foote: Novelist and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who became a national celebrity explaining the war to America on Ken Burns' 1990 PBS documentary, has died at 88. The Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident wrote a stirring, three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War, as well as six novels. ''He had a gift for presenting vivid portraits of personalities, from privates in the ranks to generals and politicians. And he had a gift for character, for the apt quotation, for the dramatic event, for the story behind the story,'' said James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian. ''He could also write a crackling good narrative of a campaign or a battle.'' On Burns' 11-hour PBS series ''The Civil War,'' Foote became an immediate hit with his encyclopedic knowledge of the war, soft Southern accent and easy manner. With his gray beard and gentlemanly carriage, he seemed to have stepped straight out of a Mathew Brady photograph. Later he would say that being a celebrity made him uneasy, and he worried it might detract from the seriousness of his work.
Kremlin/Book Archives: After 170 years of inhabiting the buildings that housed the pre-revolutionary Senate and Synod, Russia's largest and oldest archive, containing 6.5m manuscripts documenting history from Peter the Great to the Bolshevik coup, is being evicted by the Kremlin.
Trafalgar Festivities in Britain/200th Anniversary: This week sees the start of months of commemoration of a commander whose early strategies had misfired, who was ruthless with subordinates and who was reviled for a notorious affair. Yet the radical techniques he developed - which brought an epic victory over the tyranny of his age - and his embodiment of all that is heroic make him a man who still matters.
Gilder/Lehrman Interview: Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman said on C-Span's"Q&A" that they welcomed the recent press coverage concerning the liberal accusation that as Republicans they are pushing forth a conservative ideological agenda through their involvement with the New-York Historical Society, and specifically, last fall's Alexander Hamilton exhibit."Frankly, I didn't mind any of the publicity, because the New-York Historical Society has been sort of a back number" was Lehrman's comment. Gilder's response was,"You want to come at it and say, 'Well, ours is a great story of communism,' fine. As Arthur Schlesinger said, the only way you can overcome a bad idea is with a good idea. So, we'll have lots more controversy, discussion. We'll bet on the great American story."
Iron-Age Woman: The remains of a young woman recovered from a peat bog and dated to about 650 B.C. went on display at a German museum today five years after they were discovered. The remains were found in 2000 after accidentally being cut into about 100 pieces by a machine harvesting peat from a bog near the western German city of Hanover.
Iraq/Stolen Artifacts: Money from the sale of stolen artifacts in Iraq is being used to fund terrorist activity there, the director of Iraq's National Museum told experts at a UNESCO meeting Thursday. ``Rich people are buying stolen material. ... Money is going to Iraq and they're buying weapons to use against Iraqi police and U.S. forces,'' Donny George said on the sidelines of the gathering called to assess the state of Iraq's cultural heritage. ``This money is going to the terrorists.'' George told a news conference that of 15,000 objects stolen from the museum, almost 4,000 had been returned to the country and more than 4,000 others were being kept in neighboring countries for safekeeping.
Greatest American Poll: The Discovery Channel has just completed a TV series called “The Greatest American,” in which viewers chose among founding fathers, great inventors, and talk show hosts to select and rank the 25 “Greatest Americans” of all time. The final episode aired on Sunday. #1 Ronald Reagan. #2 Lincoln, #3 ML King, #4 Washington, #5 Ben Franklin. (Click here for commentary.)
Sappho Discovery: A love poem written 2,600 years ago by Sappho, the greatest female poet of ancient Greece, was published on Friday for the first time since it was rediscovered last year. Sappho's verses expressing love for her female companions on the Greek island of Lesbos have either shocked or delighted generations of readers ever since they were first composed. Her works once filled nine volumes and the ancients called her the"tenth muse," but little has survived to modern times. The 12-line poem, only the fourth to have been recovered, was found on papyrus wrapped around an Egyptian mummy. It was published with an English translation in the Times Literary Supplement.
Lincoln/Time Magazine: A few weeks ago Newsweek ran a cover story on George Washington. This week Time Magazine has put Lincoln on the cover. Of Lincoln Time says:"He was underestimated as President, then turned into an icon at his death. Only now are historians discovering the personal and political depth of the leader who saved the nation." The cover story includes articles by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joshua Wolf Shenk (author of a forthcoming book on Lincoln's melancholia), Douglas Wilson (concerning Lincoln's oratory), Harvard's John Stauffer (on Lincoln's relationship with Frederick Douglass).
WW II/Japan: In a gesture of reconciliation, Japanese Emperor Akihito made a surprise visit on Tuesday to a Korean war dead memorial during a pilgrimage to the island of Saipan where a decisive World War II battle was fought. Akihito, on his first overseas trip to honor war dead, also bowed his head in silent prayer at two rocky heights where Japanese soldiers and civilians leapt to their deaths rather than surrender in shame. The emperor's journey coincides with a chill in Japan's ties with China and South Korea, still tormented by the wartime past 60 years after the end of the conflict. Tuesday's visit was the first time the emperor had paid respects at a Korean war memorial.
ABC TV Series on Rome: ABC's"Empire" is a galloping adventure story full of gladiator fights, horseback chases and severed heads on pikes. So let's cut to the skirt chase: the ethereal heroine finds true love but remains a technical Vestal virgin. Romantic revisionism is one incentive to watch a six-hour mini-series about the civil war that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.: Octavius (Santiago Cabrera) is the cute one who gets the girls. Caesar's nephew, Gaius Octavius, who later becomes the Emperor Augustus, fills history books but never gets very far in fiction. (NYT)
Berkeley/Renaming a School for Jefferson: The proposal to change the name of Berkeley’s Jefferson School because Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder has failed to win approval. Those favoring the change offered a case based on Jefferson’s ownership of slaves and on their impression that he had not acted to end slavery. In their 15 minutes they quoted from Jefferson’s own account of his ordering an offending slave flogged and from writers who have faulted Jefferson for not acting effectively to end slavery. At the core of their presentation were the strong feelings of a teacher at the school, who regards the school’s name as an affront to herself and to all members of the school community who are black.
Week of 6-27-05 MONDAY
Post-Sept. 11 Arrests Face New Scrutiny: At least 70 men, most of them Muslim and a quarter of them U.S. citizens, have been detained improperly as material witnesses since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were denied their due process rights, according to a report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Of the individuals detained, seven were charged with providing material support to terrorists, said the advocacy groups' report, made public Sunday.
Israeli Troops Tell of Tactics to Abuse Palestinians: Former soldiers in the Israeli Defence Force have come forward with claims of widespread abuses against the Palestinians amid what they say is a growing climate of"moral corruption". A group of 300 ex-service personnel gathered together by the Breaking the Silence group made a series of damaging allegations about the behaviour of soldiers. In public testimonies, the troops alleged the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) routinely carried out"deterrent gunfire" into Palestinian areas without a specific target and also used Palestinian civilians to investigate suspected bombs and as human shields during arrest operations.
Norman G. Finkelstein Sets Off Debate: Some books are destined to set off controversy. The University of California Press has such a volume in Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, slated for release in August. The book argues that supporters of Israel prevent human rights abuses by that country from getting the attention they deserve, in part by calling those who raise such issues anti-Semites. That thesis would be controversial from most authors, but the book in question is by Norman G. Finkelstein, a political scientist at DePaul University who has enraged Jewish groups by questioning the role of the Holocaust and with consistently harsh criticism of Israel. Even before the release of Beyond Chutzpah, the book has set off a broader debate over the First Amendment. An article published Friday by The Nation charges that Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who is attacked in the book and who has been a critic of Finkelstein, tried to get the California press to call off publication.
Ex-Israeli Soldier Guilty of Manslaughter: An Israeli military court convicted a former soldier of manslaughter today in the 2003 shooting death of a British activist who was working with the Palestinians. The case focused attention on an issue that has been a source of fierce debate in recent years. Human rights groups and Palestinians say the Israeli military has killed many unarmed Palestinians, and a number of foreigners, and that shootings are rarely investigated. Israel says it does not target civilians, and that it conducts inquiries in cases where soldiers are suspected of wrongdoing.
Court wrestles with church/state separation: The Supreme Court struggled in a pair of 5-4 rulings Monday to define how much blending of church and state is constitutionally permissible, allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed outside the Texas state capitol but not inside Kentucky courthouses. In its first rulings on the issue in a quarter-century, the high court said that displays of the Ten Commandments on government property are not inherently unconstitutional. But each exhibit demands scrutiny to determine whether it amounts to a governmental promotion of religion, the court said in a case involving Kentucky courthouse exhibits.
Stalled on Home Front, Bush Looks Abroad: "Foreign affairs becomes a refuge for every second-term president as his powers weaken at home," said Harvard University scholar David Gergen, who has advised presidents of both parties."What's been a surprise is that typically the window of opportunity is about 18 months, when they can expect to get something done before attention turns to the midterm elections. The window seems to be shutting on Bush much earlier." For Bush, the shift to foreign affairs goes beyond diverting attention from congressional resistance to such domestic proposals as partially privatizing Social Security. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stalemate over North Korea's nuclear program and last week's election of a hard-liner in Iran all are demanding more and more of the president's time and attention.
Bush's Credibility Takes a Direct Hit From Friendly Fire: But last month, Vice President Dick Cheney broke from the administration's"message discipline" and declared that the insurgency was in its"last throes." The White House has been paying a price ever since. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, complained that the White House was" completely disconnected from reality." Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), another supporter of the war, charged that Bush had opened not just a credibility gap, but a" credibility chasm." Historian Robert Dallek, a biographer of President Lyndon B. Johnson and an outspoken critic of Bush, said:"Analogies are imperfect, and I hate to press this one, but this is so much like Vietnam. It has echoes of the Vietnam experience when senators like [Arkansas Democrat J. William] Fulbright began to hammer Johnson on our aims and goals and credibility….
The Romans Did Not Invade Britain After All: The history of Britain will have to be rewritten. The AD43 Roman invasion never happened - and was simply a piece of sophisticated political spin by a weak Emperor Claudius. A series of astonishing archaeological findings of Roman military equipment, to be revealed this week, will prove that the Romans had already arrived decades earlier - and that they had been welcomed with open arms by ancient Britons. The discovery of swords, helmets and armour in Chichester, Sussex, dates back to a period between the late first century BC and the early first century AD- almost 50 years before the supposed invasion. Archaeologists who have studied the finds believe it will turn conventional Roman history taught in schools on its head."It is like discovering that the Second World War started in 1938," said Dr David Rudkin, a Roman expert leading the work.
Iraqi Intellectuals and Historians Can Once More Turn to Books: The Dar al-Bayan shop is steeped in the past. It opened in 1961 and used to be a salon of sorts with famous writers gathering in its few small, book-lined rooms to talk politics and literature. Its owner, Beadiee Khakhani, speaks disparagingly about the titles being sold outside."Now it's different," said Mr. Khakhani, 54."It's less about culture," he said, and more about books with practical themes, like computer manuals and religious guides. Intellectuals and writers seem particularly disoriented in the new Iraq. Many were alive in the decades before 1968, when the Baath Party took control, which was a time of cultural renaissance in Iraq. But in 1979, when Mr. Hussein became president, he began banning books, singling out writers and intellectuals, jailing them and blocking publication of their work.
Free Speech and Hate Speech: Three French intellectuals and the publisher of the nation's premier newspaper, Le Monde, were ordered by a French court in May to pay 1 euro each to Attorneys Without Borders, which Mr. Goldnadel leads, for defaming Jews in an op-ed article three years ago. The article, the court found, equated Jews with the state of Israel, whose policies the authors sharply criticized. The four men were also told to pay one euro each to an Israeli-French association, and Le Monde was ordered to publish a notice of the court's decision in its pages in the coming months. The case is one of many such complaints to land in European courts in recent years as a surge of emotional discourse - regarding Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks and Israel after the second Palestinian intifada - bumps against post-Nazi laws intended to guard against the fascist hate-mongering of the 1930's.
Gettysburg: 142nd anniversary: Multiple articles from the Baltimore Sun.
'America's Nazi Party' Rallies at Yorktown: Members of a group calling itself ''America's Nazi Party'' waved flags bearing swastikas and shouted slogans like ''Sieg Heil'' at a rally on a national battlefield Saturday, while some 500 counter-demonstrators gathered on a field nearby. About 150 members of the National Socialist Movement and their supporters gathered at the Yorktown Battlefied to honor George Washington and other founding fathers whom they claim held separatist and anti-Semitic views -- a position disputed by most scholars.
Pioneering Heart Surgeon Dies Without Deserved Spot in History: I can still see the Boston Globe front-page picture of the broadly grinning South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard. It was December 1967, and Barnard, a privileged product of the world's ugliest race-based dictatorship, had just become"the first person to successfully transplant a human heart." Performed at Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital, this made Barnard an international celebrity and conferred upon his white-supremacist government a measure of legitimacy. On May 29, 2005, Hamilton Naki, a black South African, died in penniless obscurity at 78. It was he who, with extraordinary and painstaking skill, removed the heart of Denise Darvall, a white woman who had been in an automobile accident, and presented it to Barnard for the second part of the procedure, its placement in Louis Washkansky, a 55-year-old diabetic. Determined to rewrite history, Groote Schuur Hospital admonished Naki,"Nobody must know what you are doing."
Japan Should Wake up to History: History issues have long existed in Sino-Japanese relations and affected public sentiment in the two nations. They have become a major impediment to bilateral relations and in part account for the gravity of the current situation. To resolve the issues, there must be an objective and accurate assessment of their origin and current state. No doubt, the culprit of current bilateral friction is Japan, especially the Japanese right wing. Their distortion of history and denial or gilding of aggression have hurt Chinese' feelings time and again and hindered the growth of bilateral relations. In recent years, as Japan has become more conservative, the influence of the right wing, in both public and private sectors, has been rising. This cannot help but provoke str
History in Lahore: At a historic meeting in Lahore, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) Executive today urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to permit the"free flow of print products" and to"encourage [the] unfettered exchange" of journalists between the two countries. The plea was made in a resolution adopted at its 500th meeting. The INS Executive took note of the accelerated peace process during the last few months between the two countries while making the suggestions.
Historian Questions Origin of 'Two-Fingered Salute': Legend has it that the “band of brothers” immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry V, first used the V sign as an insult and a symbol of victory following their triumph over the superior French forces. But historian Anne Curry, professor of medieval history at the University of Southampton, writing in the BBC History Magazine, claims the facts don’t match the myths and the archers may not deserve the credit for coming up with the gesture. Her re-examination of contemporary accounts and wage bills suggests that while there is evidence that the French threatened to cut off the bow fingers of captured archers, there is nothing to say that the English adopted the two-fingered salute to show they had survived with their fingers intact.
Quotes from Darlene Clark Hine on African-American history: Some quotes from an Associated Press interview with Darlene Clark Hine, lead author of a textbook that Philadelphia's high schools will use in a required African-American studies course:"This is a major, major step. For once, African-American history will be fully integrated into the curriculum, and students will have the opportunity to study it year-round, and not just in February for Black History Month."
Deep Throat Sought Vengeance, Says Ex-Chief: L. Patrick Gray, the FBI chief during the Watergate break-in, says he believes deputy W. Mark Felt became the anonymous source known as Deep Throat because he was angry at being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover's successor and wanted to sabotage Gray. Gray, who was selected to lead the FBI the day after Hoover's death on May 2, 1972, also says he refused White House demands to fire Felt or order a lie-detector test over leaks about the Watergate investigation.
Chile 'Helped UK' in Falklands War: A former air force commander has acknowledged that Chile helped Britain during the 1982 Falklands war because it feared an attack from Argentina after the conflict. Gen. Fernando Matthei told the Santiago newspaper La Tercera that then-dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet approved Chile's"strategic cooperation" with Britain's successful efforts to recover the southern islands that Argentina had occupied in April 1982.
Week of 6-20-05 SATURDAY
Muslim Cleric Says He Spoke Against U.S.: A Muslim cleric arrested in Northern California admitted in court Friday that he gave several speeches in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks urging crowds in his native Pakistan to battle invading American troops in Afghanistan."I was trying to put pressure on the United States to stop the bombing," said Shabbir Ahmed, who at the time of his arrest on immigration charges two weeks ago was serving as imam, or religious leader, of a mosque in Lodi, Calif.
China, Vatican Improve Relations: Although freedom of religion is enshrined in China's Constitution, in practice, churches are under the watchful eye of a series of official"patriotic" religious organizations that have final authority over the naming of bishops, priests and other leaders. Many who bridle at Beijing's often-clumsy oversight prefer to worship underground despite the risk of arrest. The so-called patriotic Catholics number 4 million, according to government figures. Underground church members are estimated at two to three times that number. In recent months, relations between the Vatican and Beijing have thawed, with some seeing the death of Pope John Paul II as a catalyst. Rome, with its worldwide flock of 1 billion, and the Chinese Communi
16th Century Basque Galleon Gound in Canadian Harbour Bottom: Decades before Jacques Cartier sailed up the mighty St. Lawrence River, perhaps even before John Cabot landed on the rocky shores of Newfoundland, the lure of big money drew Basque whalers to a tiny harbour on the coast of Labrador. This summer, a team of government archaeologists will journey to Red Bay to excavate a 16th-century Basque galleon sitting in the chill waters of the Strait of Belle Isle.
Novel Written by Saddam to Be Published: Saddam Hussein's family will publish next week a novel written by the ousted Iraqi leader before the U.S.-led war, his daughter said Friday."Get Out, Damned One" tells the story of a man called Ezekiel who plots to overthrow a town's sheik but is defeated in his quest by the sheik's daughter and an Arab warrior.
Curtains Come Down at Justice Department: Two soaring blue drapes that hung in the department's Great Hall were unceremoniously removed yesterday, once again revealing a pair of risque Art Deco-era sculptures that flank the room's stage. The 12-foot cast aluminum semi-nude sculptures -- which include an exposed female breast -- had been hidden from view since early 2002, when the drapes were installed at a cost of $8,000.
Italian Judge Orders Arrest of CIA Agents: An Italian judge yesterday ordered the arrests of 13 CIA officers for secretly transporting a Muslim preacher from Italy to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts — a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally. The Egyptian was spirited away in 2003, purportedly as part of the CIA's"extraordinary rendition" program in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.
Week of 6-20-05 FRIDAY
Politicians pursue lynching charges: A group of black politicians is calling for prosecutors to bring charges for the first time in the unsolved 1946 lynchings of four black sharecroppers in Georgia.
One Nation, Divisible: Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, social scientists at the University of Houston and Princeton, respectively, used systematic measures of liberalism and conservatism built around government intervention in the economy to chart roll-call votes in Congress. We have adapted their scores to look at the House and Senate in each decade from 1955 to the present. The result? Thirty-three percent of House members were near-pure centrists in 1955; in 2004, just over eight percent fit that category. Thirty-nine senators were centrists in 1955, compared with nine in 2004.
Belgrade Says It Is Working Toward Surrender of Bosnian Serb: The Serbian government gave its clearest indication this week that it was seeking the surrender of Gen. Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb Army commander wanted for orchestrating the killing of at least 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica nearly a decade ago.
Descendants Honor Former Slave Turned Developer: About 50 descendants of the first African-American to establish a town in the United States will convene for a family reunion Saturday at an Illinois pasture where a racially integrated settlement once flourished in the 1800s. Saturday's reunion for descendants of Francis"Free Frank" McWorter will mark the end of a monthlong archaeological dig of an Illinois farm field in Pike County once known as New Philadelphia. But Juliet E.K. Walker, a great-great granddaughter of McWorter's and a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, will unveil her own plans to rebuild the town at an alternative site. She says the people behind the dig have distorted the town's racial history. McWorter, a former slave from Kentucky, bought, subdivided and sold land and incorporated New Philadelphia in 1836 at a time when much of the country was segregated. New Philadelphia became a commercial hub, historians say, and by 1870, more than one-third of its population was black.
LBJ, Not as Partisan as Portrayed: Though historians have painted President Johnson as someone who would do just about anything to get his way, nothing could be further from the truth. His years in the Senate taught him that good government is built on listening to the other side. In 1964, the president deputized me to handle relations with the Republican leadership. It was my job to keep the Oval Office open for Gerald Ford and Charles Halleck, then the House Republican leaders, and Everett Dirksen, leader of the Senate Republicans. Even though L.B.J. had large majorities in both houses of Congress after the 1964 election, he never turned his back on those across the aisle.
Milosevic Sticks to Old Story: Day after day, he has tenaciously stuck to his own version of what happened during his 13 years in power, which led to three wars and killed more than 250,000. Serbs were not responsible for the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, he contends, but were forced to defend themselves from aggression. Contrary to charges in his indictment, Mr. Milosevic says there was no plan to create a larger country for all Serbs and no atrocities were committed. Yes, people died, but they were fighting, or were bombed by NATO. This view of history has been much on display in the months since Mr. Milosevic began calling his own witnesses to defend not just himself, but also the Serbian national cause. The prosecution rested its case last year after bringing 114 witnesses to the court and presenting written testimony from 240 additional witnesses to buttress its lengthy charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Historian William Fenton Dies: William N. Fenton, a former director of the State Museum and a nationally renowned scholar of Iroquois culture, died Friday. He was 96. Fluent in their language, Fenton spent 2 1/2 years with the Seneca Indians in the 1930s, and helped found an annual Iroquois conference in 1945.
The Spendthrift Royals: Since the collapse of the British empire, the Windsors have wrestled mightily to live up to a paradoxical expectation: to remain aristocratic and special while somehow adhering, not always successfully, to ordinary middle-class notions of decency and restraint. The eminent historian David Cannadine has called this (referring to one of the queen's numerous castles and palaces) the"Balmorality play" of the House of Windsor, a somewhat joyless exercise in pomp and straitened circumstance. Here, though, is a dirty little secret about the British royals: They have been stingy for far longer than you might think. George IV, the last of the great spenders, suffered endless battles with Parliament because of his profligacy, leading to the emasculation of his plans for Regent's Street and Trafalgar Square.
Historian Susan Porter Benson Dies: Susan Porter Benson died peacefully at home on Monday (June 20, 2005). She was born in Washington, PA, on 26 July, 1943. Sue earned a Ph.D. in History from Boston University in 1983, and joined the faculty of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom as Visiting Senior Lecturer in American Labour History, after which she moved to the University of Missouri
The Blue & Gray at Play: At Pamplin Historical Park, site of a pivotal but relatively obscure Civil War battle, you can make like a Johnny Reb or a Billy Yank. Just state your loyalties and don a uniform. (This being Virginia, the Confederate volunteers typically outnumber the Union.) The fantasy camp opened in March in the 422-acre park, which is part state-of-the-art museum, part living-history village and part memorial battlefield. Call it re-enactor lite.
UIC History Professor Slain: Peter D'Agostino's colleagues said he had a reputation for pushing other historians to re-evaluate their perspectives. His 2004 book,"Rome In America," though critical of the Catholic Church, showed such incisive intellect and prodigious research that it received an award from the American Society of Church History. D'Agostino was found about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, unconscious and bleeding from a severe head wound, on a front lawn about three blocks from his Oak Park home. Police are discussing only the basic framework of the crime. And they are asking for the public's help in solving it.
Blogger Getting Through to Iran: Derakhshan is accustomed to stealing away. He left his home in Tehran in 2000 after the progressive newspaper he worked for was closed by the government, along with several others, for its ongoing criticism of the regime."The fundamentalists cracked down because they suddenly felt so insecure. A dozen pro-reform newspapers were shut down in one night. It was such a depressing time," he said. As the clamps there tightened, Derakhshan found a voice from Toronto on the Internet. Posting in both English and Persian on a blog he called"Editor: Myself," he continued his newspaper's practice from afar, criticizing the theocracy's restrictive Islamic policies, and spawning a community of like-minded writers. In 2001, he posted instructions in Persian on how to set up your own blog. It blossomed into what is now known as weblogistan — a community of Iranian bloggers using the medium's unfettered form to skirt their government's rules.
Patriot Act/Libraries: On 15 June 2005, in a 238 to 187 victory for the library community, the House approved an amendment to the Patriot Act that bars the Department of Justice from using any appropriated federal funds to search library and bookstore records under provisions of the Patriot Act. The House passed measure mandates that security officials would need to obtain a standard court-ordered search warrant issued by a judge or a subpoena from a grand jury in order to seize records relating to a suspect's reading habits.
Technology/Bible: The world's oldest monastery plans to use high-tech cameras to shed new light on ancient Christian texts preserved for centuries within its fortress walls in the Sinai Desert. Saint Catherine's Monastery hopes the technology will allow a fuller understanding of some of the world's earliest Christian texts, including pages from the Codex Sinaiticus -- the oldest surviving bible in the world. The technique, known as hyperspectral imaging, will use a camera to photograph the parchments at different wavelengths of light, highlighting faded texts obscured by time and later over-writings.
Week of 6-20-05 THURSDAY
Iraqi Antiquities: Archaeological sites in southern Iraq have been systematically looted for over two years, but experts say the dig will have to go much deeper to find out where thousands of lost artefacts have ended up. The mystery has emerged as new site protection forces finally begin to make a dent in thefts from the cradle of civilisation, rampant since the US-led invasion of March 2003. But experts say it may be years before the riddle is solved.
Democrats Didn't Understand 9/11 Consequences Says Rove: Speaking in a ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.``Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,'' Rove said Wednesday night. ``Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.''
World View of U.S. Improves Slightly, Except Among Muslims: The anti-Americanism that surged through much of the world over the American-led war in Iraq shows modest signs of abating, although distinctly negative views persist in the Muslim world, according to a major new international opinion poll.
The Academic Bill of Rights Gets Major Endorsement: The American Council on Education and a coalition of 22 college and university associations, including the American Association of University Professors (who had declared the bill a “grave threat to academic freedom”) have issued a statement that endorses the central principles of the Academic Bill of Rights
The Battle for Gettysburg Continues: The prospect of slot machines on this hallowed ground, a critic syays, is an insult to the memory of the more than 165,000 men who fought here."How could they even think of putting something like that at Gettysburg?" the critic asks. The battle over the casino, which would be called the Gettysburg Gaming Resort and Spa, raises a question: With states increasingly competing among one another for revenue from gambling, is there any place that casinos cannot go?
Killen Receives Maximum Sentence: Edgar Ray Killen, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, received prison sentences totaling 60 years today for manslaughter in the killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.
Democrats Find 2004 Voting Problems in Ohio: More than a quarter of voters, and more than half of black voters, experienced problems at Ohio polling places during the 2004 presidential vote, a Democratic Party report said on Wednesday. But the problems were not enough to have changed the outcome in the state that put President Bush over the top in his battle for the White House with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, it concluded. The report cited long lines that discouraged voting, poorly trained election officials and difficulties with registration status, polling locations and absentee ballots.
Duke Graduate Student Held Prisoner In Armenia: The Middle East Studies Association is protesting the imprisonment of Mr. Yektan Turkyilmaz, a Ph. D. candidate at Duke University being held by the Armenian security services at an undisclosed location in Yerevan. Upon seeking to leave the country after finishing his work on this trip, he was seized on suspicion of smuggling old books and/or documents and questioned on his archival work and political beliefs. He has been held incommunicado well over 72 hours. Charges against him are unkown.
Senator Pushes for African-American Genealogy Center: Because African-Americans often have a hard time researching their family histories because of a scarcity of records during slavery and beyond, Sen. Mary Landrieu thinks Congress ought to help by forming a clearinghouse for genealogical research.
South Attempting Amends: JThe different generational views speak volumes about this region's transformation. Just as the civil rights movement helped create a more tolerant climate in which Hardy grew up, so a new push for justice is helping many - white and black - close the book on sordid chapters of a region's history. Since 1989, authorities have reexamined 22 deaths from the civil rights era and made 25 arrests, leading to 16 convictions. Many believe the next case to wind up in court will be that of Emmett Till, who as a 14-year-old was tortured and killed in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman while visiting family in Money, Miss. Earlier this month, the FBI exhumed his body and performed an autopsy in hopes of bringing several indictments.
New Jersey Buys Its Past: Jay Snider, a Bryn Mawr businessman and former Flyers president, put up for auction 346 manuscripts, original maps, first-edition books, and letters that historians salivated over. The auction generated more than $6.3 million. Of that, $656,760 came from the State of New Jersey, which pounced on 11 items regarded as unique documents from its earliest period under British control.
African American History in the Classroom: Philadelphia's decision to require an African American history course for graduation has unleashed a debate among historians and again highlighted how controversial it is for schools to decide what to teach about the past and how to teach it. Nationally there has been praise for the decision.
Nazi Trial in Italy: A Nazi massacre of 560 men, women and children in a Tuscan village in 1944 was premeditated and cannot be excused as officers following orders, Italian prosecutors told a military court on Wednesday. Ten former German officers, now all in their 80s, are on trial in the port of La Spezia over the shootings in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, one of Italy's worst civilian massacres during World War Two.
The Sons and Daughters of Trafalgar: On Sunday 26 June nearly 200 'Sons and Daughters of Trafalgar' - descendants of the officers and sailors who fought at the Battle on 21st October 1805 - will assemble in HMNB Portsmouth for a unique and historic gathering. The event is sponsored by the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. Those participating have all had credentials checked by the 'Sons and Daughters of Trafalgar' organisation to make sure they are bona fide descendants of original crew members.
Modernist Building Added to List onf Endangered Sites: Edward Durell Stone's porthole-studded building at 2 Columbus Circle, Mexico City's historic center and every" cultural heritage" site in Iraq have been added to the World Monuments Fund watch list of most endangered sites, to be released today. Preservationists have been protesting plans to reclad and recreate 2 Columbus Circle as the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design, arguing that the 1964 building represents a turning point in Modernist design.
Week of 6-20-05 WEDNESDAY
Khalidi Controversy: Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz this week supported allegations of plagiarism against Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, after a popular blog raised questions about the origins of a four-year-old article that appeared under Khalidi’s name. Khalidi denies the charge, saying the article, which was posted on the website of a defunct organization which he formerly led, should not have carried his byline; he didn't write it and never claimed he did.
9/11 Response Hurting Science Report Says: The Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has dangerously undermined U.S. scientific enterprise and national security by abridging the constitutional and academic freedoms that have long fostered the nation's technical superiority, according to a report released yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A New Biography Ranks Mao Alongside Hitler: Jung Chang sits in her elegant London drawing room and talks demurely of torture. It's a subject she knows well. In the course of China's Cultural Revolution, her mother was forced to kneel on broken glass and was paraded through the streets in a dunce's cap. Her father was driven mad by persecution. Chang herself, now 53, saw many of her compatriots humiliated and beaten. Such experiences, she says, have traumatized an entire generation of Chinese."We have all seen horrific scenes. They are etched on our hearts."
Okinawa Anniversary: This Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi plans to attend Japan's tribute here. Okinawa's trauma over what happened here after 545,000 American troops attacked this small archipelago is still deep. People here on Japan's southernmost islands want more recognition from Japanese society for their sufferings. But that wish collides with a growing nationalist effort to airbrush the past.
Italy Convicts Former SS Officers: Italy has sentenced 10 German former Nazi officers to life imprisonment for their role in a World War II massacre of 560 civilians in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema . The defendants, all in their 80s, were tried in absentia in a military tribunal in the port town of La Spezia.
Racism in America: The US Senate has issued an apology for failing to pass anti-lynching legislation, the FBI has reopened an investigation into the Emmitt Till case, and Ku Klux Klan leader and Baptist preacher Edgar Ray Killen has been convicted for the murder of a civil rights worker in 1964. But many southern blacks say these gestures, while important, mask deeper race relations problems. Some argue that true equality has been stymied by crippling poverty, a dysfunctional public education system and a business environment that blocks the advancement of African Americans. And some say it will be generations before the wrongs committed under slavery and segregation are righted.
Congress Again Debates Protecting the Flag: A constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to outlaw debasing the American flag is again before lawmakers, and lobbyists on both sides say the conservative tilt of this Senate gives the measure its best chance of Congressional approval since the Supreme Court ruled 16 years ago that flag burning was a form of protected speech. The House, which has repeatedly passed the measure in earlier sessions, began debating it again on Tuesday and is expected to approve it overwhelmingly on Wednesday.
History Action Alert/NHPRC Funding: Late yesterday the House Appropriations Committee voted to restore funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) -- $5.5 million for grants and $2 million for administration related costs, for a total of $7.5 million. This is far better than what was proposed in the presidents's budget, which had zeroed out all funding for both NHPRC grants and administrative support. The History Coalition is asking historians and librarians to contact their senators to request that the funding recommended by the House be increased to $8 million for competitive grants and $2 million for administration and staffing in the National Archives budget.
Owed Iraq War Reparations to Kuwait Mounting: The joint statement by the anti-war U.S. and European groups comes ahead of a U.N. meeting in Geneva next week that will decide which claims for war reparations relating to the occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91 are to be paid by Iraq, and in what amounts. So far, the U.N. Compensation Commission, a body created as a subsidiary organ of the 15-member Security Council in 1991, has awarded compensation of more than 52 billion dollars to individuals and businesses who filed claims for losses during the war.
Sen. Durbin Apologizes For Remarks: Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism. Durbin, the Democratic whip, acknowledged that"more than most people, a senator lives by his words" but that"occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words." Choking up, he said:"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies."
Thomas Jefferson the Epicure: Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, building a new nation and creating an indomitable spirit that continues to inspire flag-waving and fireworks. But the third president of the United States is less recognized as a leader in American culinary tastes who employed French chefs in the president's house, grew his own vegetables and served the first pasta in the country. Food historians call Jefferson one of the greatest epicures in history.
Falkland Islands: Britain is due to publish a new official history of the disputed Falkland islands -- British territory over which Argentina claims sovereignty -- next week."The Official History of the Falklands Campaign' will be published on June 28," a spokeswoman for the cabinet office told AFP. The book is part of a history programme by the government, she said. Leading historian Lawrence Freedman, from the department of war studies at King's College London, researched and wrote the book, which explores the crisis in the Falklands that erupted in 1982.
Lobbying Firms Hire More, Pay More: To the great growth industries of America such as health care and home building add one more: influence peddling. The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy. The lobbying boom has been caused by three factors, experts say: rapid growth in government, Republican control of both the White House and Congress, and wide acceptance among corporations that they need to hire professional lobbyists to secure their share of federal benefits.
Nuclear Power Comeback: Along the streets of this economically depressed farming town, optimism is running high that a proposed nuclear power plant could bring in new jobs, give a boost to local retailers and increase taxes for schools. The U.S. has not started a reactor project for 29 years, but President Bush is calling for a new era of nuclear power, saying it would reduce air pollution and dependence on foreign energy. If new reactors are built, the first could go into Clinton or two other possible sites nationwide."It is the best option for power," says Stan Winterroth, a high school shop teacher in Clinton."I don't agree with President Bush on anything else, but I think he is right on the issue of nuclear power."
Trafalgar Bicentennial: The Government's bicentennial celebrations to mark Nelson's victory at Trafalgar this October have already angered some military historians. A simulated sea battle, organised by the Royal Navy, will be staged between a"red fleet and a blue fleet" rather than Britain versus France and Spain, so as not to embarrass our rather delicate European neighbours. Good to hear then that former Tory leader William Hague is not encumbered by such concerns.
Week of 6-20-05 TUESDAY
Pioneer Woman Placed in New Grave: On a sunny, flowery meadow at the foot of tall pines in the rugged foothills southwest of Sedalia, more than a hundred people re-interred a pioneer woman whose name none of them will ever know. Her casket was unearthed by a crew putting in a utility line to a home in the Castle Pines subdivision in September 2003. They don't know why she died or why she came to Douglas County during a period when settlers were coming west in wagons.
The Divisive History of Fences: Fences, those upright markers of place and space, are ubiquitous in our landscape, accessories to the buildings and properties where we live and work and play. In the country, they crisscross fields in ribbons of picket and tumbles of fieldstone. In the city, they frame postage-stamp lots and grand apartment buildings in bursts of chain link and wrought iron. But while they are a visual reminder of where yours ends and mine begins, fences communicate much more than the precise lines on a surveyor's map. The word"town" derives from zaun, the German word for fence, notes Gregory K. Dreicer, a historian of technology and exhibition developer who curated"Between Fences," a cultural history of fences that will tour the country as part of the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program later this year."The walling in of a city was for defense, but it also created a boundary," he says,"and defined who you were."
Downing Street Memo: Neither Washington nor London has challenged the authenticity of any of the Downing memos. But both Bush and Blair have said that they do not reflect the full facts of war planning. As they reflect a uniquely British view of Washington actions, the papers provide interesting insight into the general relationship of two old allies. he British seemed confident that they have some leverage to influence the Bush administration's course of action. A March 22, 2002, memo from British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts claims that by sharing Bush's broad objective, Blair can"help shape how it is defined" and the approach to achieving it.
Tombstone of 17th Century Tax Collector Returned: In the more than 300 years since his violent death, the life and memory of Christopher Rousby have been commemorated, miscalculated, relocated and all but obliterated. And now, after all these years, the long-ago tax collector for the king still can't seem to find a proper resting place. Rousby, who was killed at the hands of a cousin of Lord Baltimore in 1684, was buried under a 1,000-pound slab of limestone soon after his death. At some point after his burial, his remains were lost. And over the past 65 years, the tombstone made a strange journey from Southern Maryland to a Michigan museum and back again. Now it rests, in pieces, in a conservation laboratory as locals decide whether it can be restored and possibly re-erected somewhere.
Stonehenge druids Mark Wrong Solstice: Modern-day druids, hippies and revellers who turn up at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice may not be marking an ancient festival as they believe. The latest archaeological findings add weight to growing evidence that our ancestors visited Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice. Analysis of pigs's teeth found at Durrington Walls, a ceremonial site of wooden post circles near Stonehenge on the River Avon, has shown that most pigs were less than a year old when slaughtered.
Rare Carvings in Danger ofs Being Lost: The Sanilac Petroglyphs have drawn generations of visitors to a wooded area in rural Michigan, but the rare American Indian carvings are in danger of being lost forever unless something is done to preserve them.
U.S. Hiding Secrets About Saddam?: Iraqi’s justice minister said Tuesday that U.S. officials are trying to delay interrogations of Saddam Hussein. Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal, in Brussels for an international conference on Iraq, also accused the United States of concealing information about the ousted Iraqi leader. “It seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide,” he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
DNA Fails To Link Remains to Revolutionary War Hero: Bones exhumed eight years ago from Savannah's monument to General Casimir Pulaski, the father of the American cavalry, failed to yield sufficient DNA to identify the remains as the Revolutionary War hero. A draft report on the investigation into Pulaski's disputed burial 225 years ago concludes"the mystery remains unsolved." But it also says historical records and skeletal injuries make a strong case for linking the remains to the Polish nobleman.
Vietnam and Iraq: The topic of Vietnam is both an invited guest and an uninvited guest at the White House today. In the first visit of its kind since the end of the Vietnam War 30 years ago, the Vietnamese prime minister came to the White House this morning and was warmly welcomed by President Bush into the Oval Office for a meeting that marked a decade of normalized relations. But considerably less welcome has been the increasingly frequent talk about the historical parallels between the Vietnam War and the current situation in Iraq.
Sartre: When the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre died in 1980, some 50,000 people attended his funeral in Paris' Montparnasse cemetery, but the hundredth anniversary of his birth passed off with little comment in France. In fact, says historian Annie Cohen-Solal, writing in Le Monde newspaper, the French have largely turned their backs on Sartre, while his philosophy goes from strength to strength in other parts of the world.
Larry Collins, Author of Is Paris Burning?, Dies : John Lawrence Collins Jr., a journalist and author known as Larry Collins, whose best-selling books included"Is Paris Burning?" and"O Jerusalem!," died yesterday in Fréjus in the south of France. He was 75 and lived in Ramatuelle, on the Riviera. The cause was a brain hemorrhage, according to Dominique Lapierre, his French co-author and fellow researcher, who had been his collaborator since they met at Allied Headquarters in postwar France. He announced the death to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.
Japan's Leader Under Pressure on War Shrine: South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun increased the pressure on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan on Monday to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to Japan's war dead, urging Mr. Koizumi to build an alternative facility. During a meeting here between the two men, Mr. Roh said Mr. Koizumi's visits to the shrine, which deifies 14 top war criminals and tries to justify Japan's wars in Asia, were the" core" of the history-related problems between the countries.
Civil Rights Movement/Killen Convicted: Edgar Ray Killen, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, was found guilty today of felony manslaughter in the killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi four decades ago. The verdict, delivered on the 41st anniversary of the deaths, was less severe than the murder conviction that the state prosecutors had sought.
American History Museum May Close for Renovations: The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is planning an overhaul that could involve closing all or part of the museum for extended periods. Renovations range from creating a new gallery for the museum's iconic Star-Spangled Banner, which inspired the national anthem and is now too fragile to hang vertically, to more mundane work such as repairing the 41-year-old museum's mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Infrastructure renovations alone could cost up to $50 million.
Rights Workers Honored: Every year for 41 years, Mount Zion United Methodist Church has held a memorial service for its martyrs: the three young men who were killed when they came to investigate the burning of the church by the Ku Klux Klan. But this year, by coincidence, the memorial fell in the midst of what was, for the congregation, a long-awaited murder trial - a first step, many there said, toward bringing the perpetrators of the killings to justice.
Lost Da Vinci Painting: "Cerca, trova" -- seek and you shall find -- says a tantalizing 5-century-old message painted on a fresco in the council hall of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. Researchers said Monday they believe these cryptic words could be a clue to the location of a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting. They are pressing local authorities for permission to search for the Renaissance masterpiece.
British Naval Documents: History fans are being given the first-ever opportunity to see original journals, diaries and logs penned by Britain’s most celebrated naval figures. The hand-written documents by captains James Cook and William Bligh and Admiral Lord Nelson are being displayed in a new exhibition opening tomorrow at the National Archives in Kew, south west London. They include a poignant prayer written by Nelson shortly before he ventured to sea for the Battle of Trafalgar, where he died in October 1805.
Week of 6-20-05 MONDAY
Japan Textbooks Revisited: Okinawa's trauma over what happened here after 545,000 American troops attacked this small archipelago is still deep. People here on Japan's southernmost islands want more recognition from Japanese society for their sufferings. But that wish collides with a growing nationalist effort to airbrush the past. After winning battles to play down Japan's war-era history of forcing Asian women to work in military-run brothels and Asian men to work in Japanese factories and mines, Nobukatsu Fujioka, a nationalist educator, started campaigning two weeks ago to delete from schoolbooks statements that soldiers ordered civilians here to choose suicide over surrender. But he said there were no such orders."I confirmed this by hearing people this time," he said."People claimed that there was an order by Japanese Army because they wanted to get pension for the bereaved."
Did ancient Polynesians visit California?: Scientists are taking a new look at an old and controversial idea: that ancient Polynesians sailed to Southern California a millennium before Christopher Columbus landed on the East Coast. Key new evidence comes from two directions. The first involves revised carbon-dating of an ancient ceremonial headdress used by Southern California's Chumash Indians. The second involves research by two California scientists who suggest that a Chumash word for"sewn-plank canoe" is derived from a Polynesian word for the wood used to construct the same boat.
Bank Apologizes, Activists Hope It Will Lead to Reparations: It was a brief mea culpa, a few short paragraphs typed on a sheet of paper."On behalf of Wachovia Corporation, I apologize to all Americans, and especially to African Americans and people of African descent," Chairman and chief executive G. Kennedy Thompson said after a study found that his company had purchased two banks that exploited slaves. Wachovia revealed on June 1 that one of the banks put hundreds of slaves to work on railroads and another accepted more than 100 more as collateral on defaulted loans in the 1800s. Wachovia, one of the nation's largest banks, was required by the city of Chicago to investigate its past to participate in the redevelopment of a housing project on the city's South Side.
War of 1812 Battle Site Uncovered: Archaeologists digging on a narrow peninsula along the marshy coast of Georgia have found the fort where British and U.S. troops waged the final battle of the War of 1812. When the guns were silenced, the fort was burned by the British and the remains were buried. Fast forward almost 200 years: Before developers could build a 1,014-acre waterfront subdivision of new homes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required an archaeological survey. That's when they hit historical pay dirt.
Church Recinds 150-Year-Old Expulsion of Underground Railroad Hero: Even before the reconciliation service started Sunday, descendants of an Underground Railroad hero, John Van Zandt, gathered at Sharonville United Methodist Church. A sign outside welcomed their family to the church. Sharonville United Methodist Church wasn't always so welcoming to the Van Zandts. In the 1840s, the church expelled John Van Zandt because he harbored runaway slaves at his home in the Evendale area and helped them escape. A few years later, Van Zandt was caught helping nine fugitives and lost his assets and land. His 11 children were sent to relatives scattered throughout the country. He died broke in 1847.
An Early Crusader for Anti-Lynching Law: When the U.S. Senate chose June 13 as the day to apologize for failing to pass an anti-lynching law, it provided a convenient opportunity to exercise some poetic justice. It allowed us to consider its mea culpa as an early birthday salute to James Weldon Johnson, who probably fought harder than anyone to get such legislation enacted. Born June 17, 1871, Johnson is perhaps best known these days for writing the lyrics to"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," commonly referred to as the black national anthem. But he had many careers: novelist, poet, editor, diplomat, lawyer. It was in his pivotal rote as field secretary of the NAACP that Johnson took on lynching.
India's Manuscript Preservation Project: Launched two years ago, the National Mission for Manuscripts is a five-year project to catalogue for the first time India's ancient documentary wealth and ensure that basic conservation practices are followed to halt their rapid decay. Officials say that India is the largest repository of manuscripts in the world, with an estimated 5 million texts in hundreds of languages. The manuscript project's officials say the nationwide survey will open a window to India's ancient knowledge systems: religion, astronomy, astrology, art, architecture, science, literature, philosophy and mathematics.
Nazi War Criminals: The British Home Office and the police are investigating claims that more than 200 Nazi war criminals are living in Britain, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. The alleged suspects include 75 Auschwitz camp guards who went missing after the Second World War and who are believed to have fled to this country.
Obituary: James Weinstein, a noted historian and longtime publisher and editor of the progressive magazine In These Times, died June 16 at his home in Chicago. He was 78 years old and had been battling brain cancer for several months.
Japanese and South Korean Summit: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Monday to try to patch up ties frayed by disputes over their countries' bitter history. Seoul is angry at what it sees as Tokyo's failure to face up to its militarism during World War II, symbolised by Koizumi's annual visits to a shrine for Japanese war dead.
Salamis/Search for Lost Fleet: Nearly 2500 years after the Battle of Salamis, archealogists are on a quest to better understand the naval battles that the victorious Greeks saw as a defining point in their history. Experts on Monday began searching for the lost fleets of the campaign in the northern Aegean. In the world of underwater archaeology the hunt for the legendary armadas is the expedition that might, just, scoop all others. Topping the international team's wishlist is the remains of a trireme, the pre-eminent warship of the classical age.
Early Christian Texts: The world's oldest monastery plans to use high-tech cameras and a technique known as hyperspectral imaging to shed new light on ancient Christian texts preserved for centuries within its fortress walls in the Sinai Desert. Hyperspectral imaging involves photographing the parchments at different wavelengths of light, highlighting faded texts obscured by time and later overwritings. It should allow scholars to understand corrections made to pages of the Greek Codex Sinaiticus - the oldest surviving Bible in the world that was written between A.D. 330 and 350 and thought to be one of 50 copies of the scriptures commissioned by Roman Emperor Constantine.
Sen. Robert Byrd/Memoirs: In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the"Grand Dragon" for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter. As Byrd recalls now, the Klan official, Joel L. Baskin of Arlington, Va., was so impressed with the young Byrd's organizational skills that he urged him to go into politics."The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation," Baskin said."Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields" -- which has been published by West Virginia University Press (770 pages)-- is the latest in a long series of attempts by the 87-year-old Democratic patriarch to try to explain an event early in his life that threatens to define him nearly as much as his achievements in the Senate.
Deep Throat/The Complicated Mr. Felt: A review of tens of thousands of pages of declassified White House and FBI documents, and interviews with more than two dozen people who had dealings with Mark W. Felt, reveal an exceptionally complicated personality, according to a new analysis by the Washington Post. It is impossible to disentangle Felt's sense of outrage over what was happening to the country from his own desire to scramble to the top of"the FBI Pyramid," a phrase he later used as the title of a little-noticed autobiography.
Week of 6-13-05 SUNDAY
Is Cinema Dead?: One hundred years ago today, John P. Harris opened what is often cited as the world's first movie theater, in downtown Pittsburgh. Patrons lined up on June 19, 1905, nickels in hand, to get a look at the first western:"TheGreat Train Robbery." Today, there are those who think 100 years might be about long enough for the movie theater. Hollywood is in a box-office slump, with attendance dropping by about 9% below last year's. An Associated Press/AOL News poll last week found that 73% of adults prefer to watch movies at home on DVD, videotape or pay-per-view.
Pittsburgh Tea Party?: While summer often provides fine weather for outdoor tea parties, two Pittsburgh merchants couldn't have been pleased when nearly two dozen uninvited guests showed up for one on Aug. 25, 1775. Joseph Symond and John Campbell had been selling British-taxed tea to trappers and farmers who had come to trade at the cluster of huts and taverns that had sprung up outside Fort Pitt. While the two were in defiance of the boycott resolutions, or"resolves," passed by the Continental Congress, they may have felt insulated from the Legislature by their distance from Philadelphia. They were wrong. A delegation of 23 men seized their unsold tea, brought it to the foot of a Liberty Pole erected near the Point and burned it, according to a 1942 history called"Pennsylvania Cavalcade."
Hoover Era Tariff Holds Lessons for Today: Only a few economic historians are likely to notice that tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill, and even economic historians are unlikely to be nostalgic about that disastrous legislation. Why not leave the bad news of the past in the past? After all, we have our own problems today. Unfortunately, the same kind of thinking that led to the Hawley-Smoot tariffs is still alive and well - and in full youthful vigor - in the media and in politics today.
The Rehnquist Court and Its Imperiled States' Rights Legacy: If Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist retires this summer, as appears likely, the court's ruling last week that federal drug law trumps states on the use of medical marijuana will be its last word on federal-state relations during his tenure. A hallmark of the Rehnquist Court has been a re-examination of the country's most basic constitutional arrangements, resulting in decisions that demanded a new respect for the sovereignty of the states and placed corresponding restrictions on the powers of Congress.
Civil War Historian Dies: Brian C. Pohanka, 50, a Civil War historian who advised filmmakers, preserved battlefields, reenacted troop movements and dressed the part, died of cancer June 15 at his home in Alexandria. As an adviser and military coordinator on major motion pictures, including"Glory" (1989) and"Cold Mountain" (2003), he ensured the historical accuracy of films that would be seen by millions in theaters and on television.
Archives Detail Betrayal of French Jews by Collaborators: The Paris police HQ is to open its second world war archives and allow the public to see for the first time the full extent of the force's collaboration with the Nazis."At last, everyone will be able to research the history of their parents and families, calmly and in an appropriate place," the Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld said after Pierre Mutz, the police chief, signed an agreement to transfer the archives to the Paris Holocaust memorial museum.
Bush Administration Women Are More Likely Single than Men: The Bush administration, it appears, is suffering from a serious but little-noted problem: a"marriage gap." That is, a top female official is almost five times as likely to be single as her male counterpart. In a fact-filled survey of 367 top administration officials by the National Journal, 33 percent of the women, but only 7 percent of men, were single. This may suggest that, to get ahead, it's better for women to be single. Could be that is the reality vs. the rhetoric of"family friendly." As for Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean 's slap that the GOP is"pretty much a white Christian party," the survey found that about 83 percent of Bush officials are white and 71 percent are white Christians -- deducting 9 percent listed as Jewish and about 3 percent as"no religion." In contrast, based on our extrapolation from only somewhat comparable studies of the Clinton administration, it appears roughly 73 percent of Clinton top officials were white. Religious affiliations were not included in those studies.
New Light Shed on Ancient Egyptian Glassmaking: New excavations on the eastern Nile Delta show that ancient Egyptians had large-scale glass-making operations several hundred years earlier than researchers had believed, and the archeological remains provide the first solid evidence about how they did it, British and German researchers report today. The glass factory at Piramesses, which probably began production around 1250 BC, about a century after the reign of King Tutankhamun, used a two-step process in which pulverized quartz was heated with plant ash in ceramic jars to form a crude solid.
Bush's Remarks Have Opposite Effect than Intended in Iran: "I say to Bush: `Thank you,'" quipped Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi."He motivated people to vote in retaliation." Bush's comments _ blasting the ruling clerics for blocking"basic requirements of democracy" _ became a lively sideshow in Iran's closest election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And they highlighted again the United States' often crossed-wire efforts to isolate Iran. Bush described the election as an exercise in futility because Iran's real power rests with the non-elected Islamic clerics, who can override the president and parliament. Many agree with that description of a regime that allowed just eight presidential candidates from more than 1,000 hopefuls.
Japan Pushes Whale Meat: Japan is lobbying hard to get a nearly two-decade-old moratorium on commercial whaling overthrown at the 57th International Whaling Commission meeting in South Korea this week. Officials are also locked in a struggle back home to rekindle the nation's ebbing taste for whale.
Saving a Symbol of Italy's Past: Donkeys, a symbol of Italy's impoverished past, might not seem as important as, say, Venice or family farming, both under threat -- unless you see something profoundly Italian in them, as Princess Nicoletta d'Ardia Caracciolo does."Italy isn't Italy without donkeys," she said, gazing lovingly at the herd of 17 she keeps on land near Magliano, a hilltop town in far western Tuscany."Italy without donkeys is like Italy without churches."
Man Convicted in Bid to Kill Aide Of President Ford: A retired political science professor from Philadelphia was convicted of trying to murder President Gerald R. Ford's personnel chief -- 30 years after he believed he was passed over for a government job. Robert Spadaro was found guilty in a U.S. district court last week of four counts of attempted murder and interstate stalking of Douglas Bennett.
FBI Says Terror Expertise Not a Priority: In sworn testimony that contrasts with their promises to the public, the FBI managers who crafted the post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorism say expertise about the Mideast or terrorism was not important in choosing the agents they promoted to top jobs. And they still do not believe such experience is necessary today even as terrorist acts occur across the globe.
Byrd, in His New Book, Again Confronts Early Ties to KKK: In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the"Grand Dragon" for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter.
Possible Court Nominee Would Be a Historic First: President Bush's advisers are focusing their search for a new Supreme Court justice on a trio of candidates who could present the president with a choice that would help shape his legacy -- pick a reliable conservative to anchor the court for decades or go for history by naming the first Hispanic chief justice at the risk of alienating his base.
For Many July 4th Isn't Indepence Day: A combination of the words"June" and"nineteenth," Juneteenth was born out of a spontaneous celebration that erupted June 19, 1865, when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, declared U.S. sovereignty over Texas and officially notified the state's 250,000 slaves that they were free. That was 30 months after President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.
Prosecution Completes Case in 1964 Civil Rights Killings: Testifying for the defense, Edgar Ray Killen's brother on Saturday tried to turn the tables on the prosecutor in Mr. Killen's murder trial in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers here in Neshoba County.
Raphael Didn't Die a Bachelor: The small pearl brooch in Raphael's masterpiece, La Fornarina, was the clue, and researchers believe that it has unlocked one of the mysteries of the Renaissance. For centuries it has been thought that the woman, Margherita Luti, a baker's daughter from Siena, was the artist's mistress.He was, after all, engaged to the niece of a powerful Vatican cardinal. However, a new study by an Italian art historian, Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz, suggests that Raphael and Luti had already married in a clandestine ceremony, and that - fearful of a scandal - the artist took the secret to his grave. Officially, he died a bachelor at the age of 37.
Politics and Tobacco: The case started as a bombshell: deep into his State of the Union address in 1999, President Bill Clinton surprised even the most ardent antismoking advocates by announcing that he was unleashing the considerable resources of his Justice Department to prepare a lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Nine months later, a team of lawyers working in the bowels of the Justice Department made good on the president's promise by filing what amounted to one of the biggest federal lawsuits in history, accusing cigarette makers of a half-century of fraud, deceptive advertising and dangerous marketing practices. But exuberance turned to trepidation for some of the lawyers 15 months later when the Bush administration inherited the case. Some senior officials in the new administration saw the case as an albatross that prompted clear ambivalence, if not outright hostility. John Ashcroft, who had opposed the lawsuit while a senator, pronounced it weak after taking over as attorney general, and tried to cut the money for it. And President Bush himself, asked about the lawsuit in an interview in early 2001 on Fox News, said,"I worry about a litigious society." Noting that many states had already sued the tobacco industry and forced settlements, Mr. Bush said,"At some point, you know, enough is enough." Nearly six years after the lawsuit was brought, that point may finally have come.
Red Cross Forced to Leave Its Policy of Confidence: With its leaks the subject of wide publicity and controversy, and its public protests totally ignored, the ICRC has been forced to take stock. The world, it has been obliged to recognise, is simply not the place it was in 1864 when the representatives of 12 powerful nations undertook to bring a measure of humanity to warfare. The collapse of nation states, the rise of guerrilla warfare, the proliferation of weapons, the"war on terror" and the widespread anarchic disregard for civilian life, have changed the landscape of conflict. When the plenipotentiaries of Germany, France and Britain signed their names on the first Geneva Conventions, about 90 per cent of all casualties of war were soldiers; today more than 90 per cent are civilians. In the 150 separate wars between 1945 and 1995, more than 25 million people have died, with 50 million wounded. By the end of the 1960s, three people on average were being killed or maimed by a land-mine every hour.
Social Studies Scores Down in NYC: READING and math scores are way up in New York City schools, and the huzzahs have been loud. But every silver lining has its cloud. In this case, it is the recent news that shockingly few students - less than 20 percent of eighth graders - meet state standards in social studies. Call it the Sam Cooke generation. These kids don't know much about history. Well, if one song can describe the problem, why not another to find a solution? That was Harold Small's feeling exactly. Mr. Small teaches social studies at Intermediate School 364 in Starrett City, Brooklyn, by Jamaica Bay. The other day, he popped a tape of the 1980's musical"Big River" into a VCR, and played excerpts for his 25 seventh graders. They are learning about slavery and America before the Civil War."Big River," based on"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," including Huck's raft journey with the runaway slave Jim, fit right in.
Week of 6-13-05 SATURDAY
Historian Writes Book about Legal Battle with Holocaust Denier: British libel court is war unto the knife. Loser pays all. David Irving set out to demolish Deborah Lipstadt. One year after the trial, Irving's wife and daughter wept on a curbside as liquidators seized their house, its contents, Irving's library. By the time Irving got home, he discovered that the suit he was wearing was the only one he now owned.
Germans press Turks on Armenian slaughter: Germany's Parliament on Thursday urged Turkey to examine its role in the killing of an estimated one million ethnic Armenians a century ago - an issue that could affect Ankara's hopes of joining the European Union. The motion proposed the establishment of a commission of Turkish, Armenian and international historians to examine the killings. It complained that the Turkish authorities were stifling debate at home. The Turkish Foreign Ministry statement retorted that the country"has opened up its archives to all researchers, including Germans and Armenians, on the premise that historic events can only be assessed by historians and not by parliaments."
How the Battle of La Belle Alliance Became the Battle of Waterloo: To the everlasting discredit of the top brass of the British army in the middle of the 19th century, William Siborne had his two-volume History of the War in France and Flanders in 1815 accepted as the authentic account of the Battle of Waterloo, which climaxed on June 18, 1815, when the British, Germans, Belgians, Dutch and Prussians finally beat Napoleon Bonaparte's French. While attempting to gather information from British officers Siborne went broke. To solve his problem, he wrote to all who had replied to his questionnaire asking for more detailed personal accounts, which he assured would be included in his history. At the same time he solicited financial sponsorship from them. Although the perhaps self-serving testimonies of all who supported him financially were included in the finished work, the accounts of the battle sent to him by the hundreds of non-sponsors were ignored, even if they contradicted the others' claims.
Poll Shows Trust between French and Americans Low: Trust between the French and Americans has slumped to its lowest level in 17 years, more than two years after a bitter feud over the Iraq war, an opinion poll showed on Friday. The TNS-Sofres survey of 1,000 people in each country showed only 31 percent of French people have any"sympathy" for Americans, down from 39 percent in 2002. Only 35 percent of Americans like the French, a drop from 50 percent in 2002, according to the poll, published in the Le Monde newspaper.
Former Clerks Gather to Say Goodbye to Rehnquist: Every spring, some of the most accomplished lawyers in America assemble in Washington for a two-day private tribute to the man who gave them their first big job: the chief justice of the United States, William H. Rehnquist. But this year's annual reunion of Rehnquist's former law clerks, which took place over the weekend of June 11 and 12, felt bittersweet. The dozens of ex-aides who came from across the country sensed it might be an occasion not only to hail but also, several noted, to say farewell to the man they know simply as"the chief."
Bush Endorses Book by North Korean Defector: After years of lonely street demonstrations and little-noticed newspaper columns, Kang Chol Hwan, a North Korean defector, learned recently that his life had irrevocably changed."I was introduced as someone who wrote a book that was read by George Bush," he said in a recent interview at a museum cafe in Seoul, South Korea, only 150 miles south of the North Korean slave labor camp where he was imprisoned with his family in 1977. He was 9 years old.
Week of 6-13-05 FRIDAY
Obituary/James Weinstein: A former member of Communist front groups in the 1950s who later founded In These Times, Mr. Weinstein preferred to call himself more of a Groucho Marxist influenced as much by"Duck Soup" as"Das Kapital." He was a respected historian of the American left, who argued in several books that socialism is as American as any other ideology, a reason why he borrowed several words from the Pledge of Allegiance to use on his magazine's masthead. Mr. Weinstein, 79, died on Thursday, June 16, after a long bout with brain cancer in his home on the North Side of Chicago.
Bryan Le Beau Update: At The Real Paul Jones,"an anonymous UMKC employee" posts what purports to be a memo of 17 June from UMKC's interim Chancellor, Stephen W. Lehmkuhle, to the Faculty and Staff of the College of Arts and Sciences. It immediately places Bryan Le Beau on administrative leave, with status and salary commensurate with a tenured full professor of the history department. An interim dean will be named in the next week and regular leadership of the College of Arts and Sciences will be determined by a new Chancellor after 31 December. There is further direct confirmation from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
Victims of Pinochet's Said Buried at the Enclave of Religious Cult: The authorities in Chile searching for victims of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship who are said to be buried at the enclave of a secretive, apocalyptic religious cult of German émigrés have unearthed a large cache of weapons and intelligence files.
Antiwar Group Says Leaked British Memo Shows Bush Misled Public: Opponents of the war in Iraq held an unofficial hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday to draw attention to a leaked British government document that they say proves their case that President Bush misled the public about his war plans in 2002 and distorted intelligence to support his policy.In a jammed room in the basement of the Capitol, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, presided as witnesses asserted that the"Downing Street memo" - minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top security officials - vindicated their view that Mr. Bush made the decision to topple Saddam Hussein long before he has admitted.
Woman Soldier Awarded Silver Star: For the first time since World War II, a woman soldier was awarded the Silver Star Medal today in Iraq. Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company, a National Guard unit out of Richmond, Ky., received the Silver Star, along with two other members of her unit, Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein and Spc. Jason Mike, for their actions during an enemy ambush on their convoy. Other members of the unit also received awards.
Widow Recalls Ghosts of '64 at Rights Trial: When they had a phone, it rang constantly. People on the other end would tell Rita Schwerner that her husband was a dead man. Their license-plate number was circulated to law enforcement officers. That was the welcome given a young couple who arrived in Mississippi from New York in 1964 to join the civil rights movement, the former Ms. Schwerner, now Rita Bender, told a jury on Thursday. She was the first witness in the state murder trial of a onetime member of the Ku Klux Klan accused of orchestrating the killing of her husband, Michael Schwerner, and two other civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman, more than 40 years ago.
Jamestown Founder: Archaeologists have successfully extracted DNA from skeleton remains under an English church that could prove a skeleton found near Jamestown belongs to one of its founders, the Church of England announced Thursday. British and American researchers began work Monday to remove a small part of Elizabeth Gosnold Tilney's skeleton from beneath the floor of All Saints Church in the English village of Shelley, 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of London. She is the sister of Capt. Batholomew Gosnold, who oversaw the expedition that led to the 1607 founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement.
Felt Signs Book/Movie Deal: The family of the 91-year-old former FBI man Mark Felt who was the Watergate source ``Deep Throat'' has signed book and film deals and Tom Hanks will produce the movie, his publisher said on Thursday. Peter Osnos, publisher of PublicAffairs, said the book was provisionally titled ``A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington.''
Weller Report on Nagasaki Uncovered: A controversial report and photos a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist produced on the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki have been unearthed almost 60 years after U.S. military censors forbade their publication. The late George Weller was the first foreign reporter to reach Nagasaki after it was subjected to an atomic attack on Aug. 9, 1945, but Occupation censors refused to allow the publication of his stories and photos that told of conditions in the city and the pain suffered by those with radiation sickness.
Tiny Town Celebrates Its Abolitionist Past: One hundred fifty-one years ago, a group of abolitionists, including the renowned Frederick Douglass, held an antislavery convention in the tiny Pennsylvania town of Sugar Grove on the New York border. This weekend, the residents of the Warren County town, a number of them descendants of the local abolitionists who met there in 1854, will celebrate that gathering with the second annual Sugar Grove Underground Railroad Convention.
Academic Chairs Vulnerable: Chairs are more vulnerable to having their statements scrutinized and their rights to speak out on certain issues curtailed by virtue of their positions. They have academic freedom, but they are demoted over controversial statements — even though those statements wouldn’t cost them their tenure.
Turkey/Cancelled Genocide Conference: In late May, just days before the French referendum on the EU constitution, the anti-EU faction in Turkey flexed its political muscle, forcing the postponement of an academic conference that was to examine the complexities of Turkey's relationship with neighboring Armenia. Conference organizers, according to a May 17 press release, had sought to air a variety of views about"what happened before, during and after 1915." The intent, they added, was to understand an extremely complex, controversial and emotionally-charged historical issue that"during the last years has become trapped and increasingly politicized" by the official Armenian and Turkish positions.
Bayeux Tapestry: Generations of English historians and schoolchildren have been reassured to think that the Bayeux tapestry, which chronicles the English defeat at the battle of Hastings, was actually made by English seamstresses in Canterbury. However, George Beech, emeritus professor of medieval history at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, claims the Bayeux Tapestry was the work of a French embroidery school. In a book due to be published in July, Prof Beech suggests the tapestry was commissioned by William the Conqueror from another William, the Abbot of Saumur, around 1070, as a celebration of the military victory that put him on the throne of England.
Delayed Beatification/Pius XII: Jewish leaders told Reuters the Pope's readiness to reconsider the Dehon case at this late date raised hopes the Vatican might go slow on Pius, who many Jews say turned a blind eye to the Holocaust."I would ask that the same kind of circumspect, thoughtful analysis that is now going to be applied to the beatification of Dehon be used in the beatification process of Pius XII," said Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, interfaith director for the Anti-Defamation League. The Vatican maintains Pius did not speak out more forcefully because he was afraid of worsening the fate of Catholics and Jews and worked behind the scenes to save Jews.
Week of 6-13-05 THURSDAY
Clinton's Defense Debts Paid: Erasing a lingering financial burden, former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2004 paid the last legal debts that arose from investigations of them during their White House years, a financial statement released Tuesday showed. In her annual Senate financial disclosure statement, Sen. Clinton reported that the couple had paid the legal fees — which for 2003 they listed as $500,000 to $1 million — for their defenses in the investigations.
Rashid Khalidi: A scholar writing anonymously proved that a website article credited to Rashid Khalidi, the Columbia University professor of Middle East studies, plagiarized other writers' work. Khalidi says his name never should have been attached to the article; he didn't write it.
Budget Cuts: The House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Teaching American History Grants has recommended a cut of $69 million, thus funding the program at only $50 million. The president had urged $119.040 million for the TAH initiative, the same amount that the program was funded at in FY-2005. If the funding level recommended by the House stands and is embraced by the Senate (not very likely considering the program's prime sponsor is Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) who is the Ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee), the net effect will be tighter competition for hundreds of teacher education programs. (Meanwhile, another subcommittee has recommended limited funding for NHPRC.)
Deserter Returns for a Reunion: Army deserter Charles Jenkins was reunited Tuesday with the mother he left behind, on the soil he forsook 40 years ago when he left his post and slipped across the border into communist North Korea.
Pope Halts Beatification of French Priest Pope Benedict XVI has temporarily blocked the beatification of a French priest and appointed a commission to investigate the priest's anti-Semitic writings, drawing praise from Jewish leaders who called it a sign of the new pope's sensitivity to other religions.
Political Lines Blurred in Iran Vote: In a profound departure from a quarter-century of politics grounded in appeals to religious duty, the presidential campaigns unfolding across Iran's capital betray not the slightest suggestion that this is a theocratic state. Hard-line conservatives are running as reformers. Reformers, after years of being thwarted by hard-liners, are running scared. And most ordinary Iranians are holding themselves aloof -- unmoved, they say, by a political tr
Award: The History Channel and National History Day have announced that the recipient of the 2005 Outstanding History Educator Award is Helene Debelak, co-founder of the Birchwood School in Cleveland, Ohio, an elementary/junior high school known for its challenging academic curriculum and high scholastic standards. Ms. Debelak's work in Cleveland and California has inspired teachers and students to use the National History Day competition to help develop character and set goals while learning to love history.
World Leaders Gather in Commemoration of the End of WWII: Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President George W. Bush, French President Jaques Chirac and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan were among more than 50 world leaders attending the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall as part of commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Here Time presents a photo montage.
Raid On Deerfield Interactive History: Launched on the 300th anniversary of the event, Raid on Deerfield set out to do with a virtual exhibit that which would be almost impossible in a conventional museum setting - specifically, to simultaneously communicate five different cultural perspectives of the same historical event in a comprehensible manner. Vist the site here.
Anti-Casino Effort in Gettysburg Gains Momentum: "When I heard about it, it just cut me in the pit of my stomach," said Muriel Rice, 83, a vice chairman of NO Casino Gettysburg."We are a battlefield community. We respect the battlefield because it's part of our everyday life." The group has printed fliers, planned an informational meeting for Monday to hear the Rev. Thomas Grey, director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, and collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition. The proposal follows the Pennsylvania General Assembly's approval last July of a broad gambling measure to bolster the horse racing industry by allowing slots gambling at 14 sites, including racetracks, stand-alone venues and resorts. The law is now under review by the state Supreme Court.
Colonial Past Not Geography Is Critical Link to Economic Development: Daron Acemoglu grew up in Turkey during a tumultuous period of economic crises and political unrest, when hyperinflation sapped spending power; rural poor streamed into cities, only to find squalor and more poverty; and terrorist attacks frequently rocked the nation, leading to the military coup of 1980. Living through these times, Acemoglu, the only child of a middle-class couple, said he often wondered why Turkey's development lagged that of the United States and other industrialized nations. Some two decades later, as an economist and professor at MIT, he came up with an answer."Colonialism is a big event that economists have not talked about," Acemoglu said."Historians talk about it. Political scientists talk about it. But economists just focus on the last 50 years."
Paper Blasts Media for Giving More Coverage to Jackson Trial than Killen Trial: "Too much attention is being paid this week to the acquittal of Michael Jackson after a California trial that was more about showbiz than justice. Not enough attention is being paid this week to a trial that really matters. It is precisely because the voting rights struggle continues that the trial of Edgar Ray Killen is not a footnote to history. It is a vital reminder that we are barely a generation away from the days when Americans were killed for registering people to vote, and that there is still work to be done before all barriers to voting rights are removed. When will that fight be won? Perhaps when the media pay as much attention to the trial of an old bigot in Mississippi as they do to the trial of a pop star in California."
Activists Protest King Tut Exhibit: US black activists demanded that a bust of Tutankhamun be removed from a landmark exhibition of artefacts from the Egyptian boy king's tomb because the statue portrays him as white. The bust that activists object to is a central part of"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," the first US exhibition of relics from king Tut's tomb in nearly 30 years, which opens in Los Angeles Thursday amid Hollywood fanfare.
The Michelangelo Code: Two Brazilian doctors and amateur art lovers believe they have uncovered a secret lesson on human anatomy hidden by Renaissance artist Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. Gilson Barreto and Marcelo de Oliveira believe Michelangelo scattered his detailed knowledge of internal anatomy across 34 of the ceiling's 38 panels. The way they see it, a tree trunk is not just a tree trunk, but also a bronchial tube. And a green bag in one scene is really a human heart. Barreto and his friend Oliveira are not the first physicians to see depictions of human organs in the Sistine Chapel.
The"Playboy" Dali Lama: Tsangyang Gyatso, who became the sixth Dalai Lama in 1697, often went against the principles of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, of which he was the spiritual leader. The publication of a new translation of the erotic poetry of the sixth Dalai Lama - who rejected monastic orders and indulged his passion for women and wine - has given new insight into this controversial figure of religious history.
House Votes to Curb Patriot Act: The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations. Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.
Week of 6-13-05 WEDNESDAY
South African #2 Dismissed: They were allies in the long struggle for democracy and then partners in government. But, yesterday President Thabo Mbeki fired the deputy president, Jacob Zuma, because of corruption allegations, calling into question who will become the country's next president. Mbeki chose a televised special session of Parliament to make the announcement. He told the country he was dismissing his No. 2 to"strengthen our democracy, reinforce the accountability of those who hold public office and deepen the confidence of the masses of our people." He said he fired his" comrade" to end a crisis that some experts called South Africa's biggest challenge since the African National Congress rose to dominance 11 years ago under former President Nelson Mandela.
Le Beau Withdraws Candidacy for Job at DePaul: The fallout has already begun for Bryan Le Beau, a professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, who recently acknowledged borrowing sections of a 2003 commencement speech from an address given 10 years earlier by Cornel West. Mr. Le Beau had been one of three candidates to become executive vice president for academic affairs at DePaul University. After his borrowing became public this week, the president of DePaul University, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, called Mr. LeBeau"to discuss the situation with him, and he agreed to withdraw his candidacy," according to a DePaul spokeswoman. In addition, the University of Missouri at Kansas City said in a statement that its academic-affairs office is" currently reviewing the issue."
Religious Right, Left Meet in Middle: After a year in which religion played a polarizing role in U.S. politics, many religious leaders are eager to demonstrate that faith can be a uniter, not just a divider. The buzzwords today in pulpits and seminaries are crossover, convergence, common cause and shared values. Last week in Washington, representatives of more than 40 U.S. denominations took part in the Convocation on Hunger at the National Cathedral, where they sang a Tanzanian hymn while the choir director shook a gourd full of seeds and children laid breads from around the world on the altar.
Senator likens American servicemen to Nazis: Conservatives are criticizing Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin for saying this on the floor of the Senate:"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners." View the Senate Record here (link in PDF).
Urban Historian Dies: Eric Monkkonen, a UCLA urban historian whose fascination with the deadliest crime led to groundbreaking analyses of 200 years of Los Angeles and New York City homicide statistics that punctured myths and underscored sobering realities, has died. He was 62.
History Carnival #10 Is Now Live: Marc Comtois of Spinning Clio has posted the 10th edition of the History Carnival, a showcase of weblog posts about history, historiography and history teaching.
The Deep Throat Collective: Rex Smith editor of the Albany Times-Union claims his paper had reported last week that Deep Throat was more than one person--that it was a group of FBI officials doing the leaking:"The day after retired FBI official W. Mark Felt revealed that he had been the secret source who tipped The Washington Post to White House intrigue during Watergate, Harry Rosenfeld came into my office and, uncharacteristically, closed the door. Rosenfeld, as most of you know, was editor of the Times Union for many years, and before that headed the local news staff of The Washington Post, where his reporters produced the groundbreaking Watergate coverage. Rosenfeld related that a retired FBI official had called him to say there was more to the story of Deep Throat: Felt, according to the ex-agent, hadn't been a rogue leaker, but rather part of a group of senior FBI officials who carefully chose what to pass along to the press. They were fighting to prevent the White House from squelching the FBI's Watergate probe, believing that if citizens got the facts, the Nixon inner guard wouldn't be able to cover up the truth."
History of Senate Apologies: On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to issue a formal apology for its repeated failures to pass anti-lynching legislation. When do federal lawmakers say they're sorry? Not very often. As far as anyone can remember, the practice began in the late 1980s. (Congressional records from 1873 to 1989 haven't yet been digitized, and no one has done exhaustive research on the matter.) In 1987, the House passed a resolution to apologize for the internment and relocation of Japanese-Americans (and the relocation of Aleuts) during World War II. In 1992, the Senate voted to apologize for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the House followed suit in 1993. Failed resolutions include an apology for slavery in 1997, and an anti-lynching apology and an official declaration of remorse for the treatment of American Indians last year.
Japan and WWII: This month, Japan's Emperor Akihito, the son of wartime emperor Hirohito, will go to Saipan to mourn those who died in World War II and pray for peace at a time when the nation's ties with its Asian neighbors are still tormented by the war. ``Ever since Akihito ascended to the throne he has been working to come to terms with the legacy of World War II,'' said Kenneth Ruoff, director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University. Japan itself, however, has yet to achieve a consensus on the war, in part because responsibility for the conflict of the late Hirohito was left unresolved by U.S. authorities keen to legitimise the postwar Occupation and, later, to make Japan a bulwark against communism.
Nazi Plan to Deport Jews: A document found in a Moscow archive suggests the Soviet leadership may have rejected a Nazi German proposal to deport Jews from German-occupied territories to the Soviet Union in 1940. A Russian historian working in Germany has published an article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper describing a letter that raised the possibility of Germany resettling Jews in Ukraine and Siberia. The historian, Pavel Polian, said he had obtained the letter, which was written by Yevgeny Chekmenyov, a Soviet official in charge of resettlement. It was addressed to then-Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and was dated February 9, 1940.
Germany to Apologize for Role in Armenian Genocide: Despite the pressure exerted by the Turkish government, the Turkish Embassy in Germany as well as Turkish organizations, the German Bundestag is preparing to pass an Armenian Genocide resolution which asks the Armenian people for their forgiveness. According to the resolution, there was a German co-responsibility for the genocide - partly through approval and through failure to take effective preventive measures. All the parties represented in the Bundestag decided to adopt a document on the Armenian Genocide till September.
New York City/Slavery: The history of slavery in the United States is, in the public mind at least, overwhelmingly associated with the South, with the Northeastern states often portrayed solely as abolitionist beacons of freedom. But a groundbreaking exhibition at the New York Historical Society which scholars are heralding as the first major effort to explore a sensitive and all too often ignored chapter in the city's past may change that misconception.
Week of 6-13-05 TUESDAY
Roman Chariot Races: Starting mid-July, visitors to Jerash, Jordan can plunge into the past, reliving in a unique location just north of the capital Amman some of the high moments that made the Roman empire. Jerash, an ancient Roman city and one of Jordan's better preserved archaeological sites, was one of the 10 great cities during the Roman golden age. The restored hippodrome is endowed with 10 starting gates, original stone seats for 21st century spectators and surrounded in the distance by olive tree-dotted rolling hills.
Saddam Quizzed on Massacre : Appearing by turns pensive and quizzical, Saddam Hussein returned to public view yesterday when Iraq's special tribunal released video images of the former president being interrogated. The first official pictures since his court appearance last July were mute but a tribunal statement said he was being questioned about a 1982 massacre at a Shia village north of Baghdad, one of the cases expected to arise at his trial.
Scholars Rate Nixon"Failure" Overall in Poll: The famous historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, 40 years a professor at Harvard, had, in 1948, polled 55 scholars on how they rated the nation's chief executives. He repeated this poll in 1962. Both polls did much to fix in the minds of academia how our presidents rank. So it seemed only natural that Schlesinger's equally famous son, Arthur, Jr., would, on the request of The New York Times, run his own poll on where our presidents rank. So how about President Nixon? In his response to the Schlesinger poll, Columbia University's Alan Brinkley wrote:"There are presidents who could be considered both Failures and Great or Near Great (e.g., Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon)." James MacGregor Burns, then on the faculty of the University of Maryland, added this observation about Nixon:"How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant, and so morally lacking? So I guess to average him out he would be Average." But in the overall rating of this polled group, Nixon was put in the"Failure" category, the opinion among most of the 32 respondents being that Nixon's Watergate misdeeds outweighed his achievements in foreign affairs.
U.S. Losing Patience on Iraq: Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003. Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be"upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased. The souring of public opinion presents challenges for the president, who has vowed to stay the course until democracy is established and Iraqi forces can ensure security. He hasn't suggested sending more U.S. troops."We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University."Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troops home.'"
Plagiarism Charged Against Bryan Le Beau: The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported a charge of plagiarism against Bryan Le Beau. Sally Greene, an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina's law school, made the discovery via a simple Google search and comments on her finding. The accusation is that Le Beau's Commencement Address at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in December 2003 substantially plagiarized from Cornel West's Commencement Address at Wesleyan University on 30 May 1993. Greene and the Chronicle of Higher Education identify parallel passages. There is tell-tale evidence, as well, in the misspelling of the name of Toni Morrison, the novelist, in both texts. Le Beau denies he ever read West's speech but admits he must have borrowed the language from somewhere. Click here to read Mr. Le Beau's response. UPDATE: Blogger Isthatlegal has discovered that Le Beau also borrowed from Russell Baker.
How Felt Fooled FBI: The recent revelations about W. Mark Felt's identity as the Deep Throat informant of Watgergate fame have been dramatic and widely reported. But Felt's role as the most famous anonymous source in US history was even more complex than the newly revised public account suggests. According to originally confidential FBI documents--some written by Felt--that were obtained by The Nation from the FBI's archives, Felt was at one time in charge of finding the source of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate scoops. In a twist worthy of le Carré, Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing--and stopping--Deep Throat.
Senate Apologizes for History of Lynching: The U.S. Senate last night approved a resolution apologizing for its failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation decades ago, marking the first time the body has apologized for the nation's treatment of African Americans. One-hundred and five years after the first anti-lynching bill was proposed by a black congressman, senators approved by a voice vote Resolution 39, which called for the lawmakers to apologize to lynching victims, survivors and their descendants, several of whom watched from the gallery. Click here for the text of S.R.39.
Top Ten Political Make-overs/List by Roll Call: Over the past 50 years, many of the most successful, celebrated and even reviled politicians have remade themselves, sometimes as a reaction to changing political realities, sometimes because of personal or ideological epiphanies and sometimes because of a mixture of the two. Many of the individuals on this list were transformed personally and politically by the civil rights movement of the 1960s as well as the domestic turmoil created by the Vietnam War. Only the candidates to those who have served in Congress at some point in their careers made the list. Also, excluded were individuals, such as Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) who appear to even now be in the midst of their own political transformations. The top ten political make-overs: Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), Wayne Morse (Ore.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), Strom Thurmond (S.C.), Charlie Goodell (R-N.Y.), Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), Jim Jeffords (Vt.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Zell Miller (D-Ga.).
Week of 6-13-05 MONDAY
World's Oldest Civilization Found: Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
A"Historical" Look at Dracula: Garlic and crucifixes are traditionally part of the arsenal for vanquishing vampires. But in"The Historian," the Dracula-da Vinci Code hybrid that has emerged as the most heavily hyped novel of the summer, the first-time author Elizabeth Kostova tries a different tactic. Perhaps even the undead can be talked to death. n a ponderous, many-layered book that is exquisitely versed in the art of stalling, Ms. Kostova steeps her readers in Dracula lore. She visits many libraries, monasteries, relics of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, crypts, restaurants, scholars and folk-song-singing peasants. Every now and then a mysterious pale, sinister figure will materialize, only to vanish bewilderingly. The book's characters find this a lot more baffling than readers will.
Postage Stamps Go Private: The federal government printed its last postage stamps Friday. The end to 111 years of stamp production by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) came without any public ceremony in the same 14th Street building where many of the nation's most famous stamps have been printed.
Grrowing Public Restlessness: The number 58 appears frequently in the latest Post-ABC News poll, sending a clear warning signal to President Bush and the Republicans. The June survey found that 58 percent of its 1,002 respondents now disapprove of the way Bush is handling both the economy and the situation in Iraq. The same number now believe that, weighing the costs and the benefits to the United States, the war was not worth fighting. And the same number, when asked about their own and the president's priorities, say that Bush is mainly concentrating on things that are not important to them personally.
Confederate Flag: Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt's decision to allow the Confederate battle flag to fly last week at a state historic site re-ignited a decades-old controversy that still splits Americans along geographical, political, cultural and racial lines. Few emblems, historians say, have stirred deeper emotions than the battle flag of the conquered Confederacy.
Vatican to Investigate Would-Be Saint: Pope Benedict XVI has formed a commission of church experts to study whether anti-Semitic writings by a French priest should prevent his planned beatification, sources in Rome said. After the writings were pointed out in late February by French historian Jean-Dominique Durand, the French government told the Vatican it would not be sending a representative to the beatification, the sources in Rome said. At the same time, the French bishops sent their own protest to the Vatican.
Japanese Comfort Women: Japan's government is trying to distance itself from remarks by the education minister who praised textbooks for avoiding mention of wartime" comfort women" forced into sexual slavery by the imperial army."There is no change in the government's view as comfort women did exist in the past. We have expressed our apology and remorse" over the issue, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference.
Prehistoric Great Plains Campsite: Radiocarbon dating results finished in February showed that mammoth and prehistoric camel bones found at a site near Kanorado, Kansas, about a mile from the Colorado border, dated back to 12,200 years ago. That would mean people who once camped at the site may have arrived in the Great Plains 700 years before historians previously thought. The bones appear to have tool marks made by humans, who probably broke them to extract marrow for food or to make tools, said Steve Holen, curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Finding tools near where the bones were found would disprove the widely held belief that humans arrived in North America about 11,500 years ago and could raise questions about whether the earliest inhabitants of North America came across the Bering Strait from Asia.
Gospel and Jazz Music's Link to Scotland: Dizzy Gillespie often regaled his friends with stories of how the Scots had influenced the blacks in his home state of Alabama. He spoke to his long-time collaborator, Willie Ruff, a bassist and French horn player, about how his parents told of the black slaves who spoke Gaelic, the tongue of their masters. Ruff - a professor of music at Yale University, a musicologist and jazz man who played with Duke Ellington and Miles Davis - was struck by the words of Gillespie, and some years after the trumpeter's death set out to investigate connections between the Scots and the blacks of the southern US. He believes that traces of the white influence on black music exist to this day and that the"DNA" of lining out the psalms permeates modern forms of music.
Teaching of History in Britain: In US classrooms a highly prescriptive syllabus offers students an uncritical, uplifting story of the triumph of American liberty. Citizenship and history are seamlessly meshed into a simple-minded morality play designed to nurture blind patriotism. In Britain, former education secretary Tim Collins set out to devise a new history curriculum along the US model. Much of the British demand for teaching national narratives emerges from the endless opinion polls highlighting historical ignorance. Britons, however, should not lose sight of the virtues of their critical, pluralist approach writes Tristam Hunt for the Guardian. The concentration on primary sources, the analysis of competing accounts and the writing of in-depth essays help to generate a more critical approach to the meaning of the past than the unquestioned heroism of the US model.
Jamestown Founder: Archaeologists are to exhume the remains of two British women buried 400 years ago, believed to be relatives of a founding father of the United States. Scientists will compare DNA from remains thought to belong to Bartholomew Gosnold, the English explorer, with bone samples from his sister and niece, buried in Suffolk. Capt Gosnold is thought by many historians to have been instrumental in the establishment of the first English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.
Chinese Americans Seek Recognition of War Crimes: Sixty years after the end of World War II, a group of Chinese Americans in the Silicon Valley are helping organize an international movement that seeks to hold Japan accountable for atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers throughout Asia. The activists, part of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia, helped organize an online petition signed by more than 40 million people seeking to block Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. They're also calling for a boycott of products produced by Japanese companies that produced artillery for wartime Japan.
Vietnamese View War History Tailored to Fit Politics: To the victors go the spoils - including the right to rewrite history. Just imagine what British soldiers would think if they could see all those monuments from Boston Harbor to Yorktown. Or native Americans, when asked about the conquest of the American West - or, for that matter, the Germans and Japanese about World War II. Thirty years after its final victory, Vietnam's historical revisionism fulfills a political need: to unify a people still divided by history, outlook, income, and social status. The results vary considerably from what we lived and saw.
Return of WW II Vets/Japanese: Op Ed columnist ..."The feverish media interest in these two stragglers, and the national awaiting of their return as sadsack heroes, is a sign that Japanese people -- when it comes to the war and its aftermath -- have yet to free themselves from the grip of"woe is me" nationalism, ethnic misconception and misplaced pride."
Sambo a Bestseller in Japan: A writer's death can do wonders for pushing that back catalog. Less drastically, a few books acquire cachet by being banned. Which may help explain why a reissue of"Little Black Sambo," a turn-of-the-20th century illustrated children's book attacked as being racist, is on the bestseller lists in Japan this spring. The Japanese edition of"Sambo" was a big favorite here, from the time it was introduced in 1953 until it was yanked from bookstores in 1988 after a swift and effective anti-racism campaign.
Report Shows New Immigrants Are Younger and More Diverse: New Census Bureau figures released on Thursday show that the immigrant population in the United States is becoming younger, a shift likely to foster more tolerance for diversity and perhaps accelerate assimilation, demographers and immigration experts say. The figures show that immigration trends are forming a unique generational divide: those immigrants over 40 are largely white, while those under 40 are increasingly Hispanic, Asian and from other minority groups.
Report Details FBI's Failure: The F.B.I. missed at least five chances in the months before Sept. 11, 2001, to find two hijackers as they prepared for the attacks and settled in San Diego, the Justice Department inspector general said in a report made public on Thursday after being kept secret for a year. Investigators were stymied by bureaucratic obstacles, communication breakdowns and a lack of urgency, the report said.
Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Plan for Iraq: A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a"protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country. The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.
Anti-Terror Campaign Produces Few Convictions: Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that"federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted." Those statistics have been used repeatedly by Bush and other administration officials, including Gonzales and his predecessor, John D. Ashcroft, to characterize the government's efforts against terrorism.But the numbers are misleading at best. An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.
Distasteful Showman or a Saver of Infant Lives?: It cost a quarter to see the babies, and people came again and again, to coo and to gasp and say look how small, look how small. There were twins, even, George and Norma Johnson, born the day before Independence Day in 1937. They had four and a half pounds between them, appearing in the world a month too soon because Dorothy Johnson stepped off a curb wrong and went into labor. All those quarters bought a big house at Sea Gate for Dr. Martin A. Couney, the man who put the Coney Island babies on display. He died broken and forgotten in 1950 at 80 years old. The doctor was shunned as an unseemly showman in his time, even as he was credited with popularizing incubators and saving thousands of babies. History did not know what to do; he was inspired and single-minded, distasteful and heroic, ultimately confounding.
Civil Rights Trial to Begin: On Monday, the first man to be charged with their murders(James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael H. Schwerner), Edgar Ray Killen, 80, will stand trial, for a second time, in the killings. In 1967, the federal government tried 18 men, including Mr. Killen, on charges that they had conspired to violate the victims' civil rights. Seven were convicted, and none served more than six years; in Mr. Killen's case, an all-white jury deadlocked. Five of the original defendants, none of whom took the stand in the first trial, have been subpoenaed to testify in the new trial.
Republican Urges Base Closing: Senator Mel Martinez of Florida said Friday that the Bush administration should consider closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Martinez is the first high-profile Republican to make the suggestion.
Israeli Scientists Coax Ancient Seed to Life: Israeli doctors and scientists have succeeded in germinating a date seed nearly 2,000 years old. The seed, nicknamed Methuselah, was taken from an excavation at Masada, the cliff fortress where, in A.D. 73, 960 Jewish zealots died by their own hand, rather than surrender to a Roman assault. The point is to find out what was so exceptional about the original date palm of Judea, much praised in the Bible and the Koran for its shade, food, beauty and medicinal qualities, but long ago destroyed by the crusaders.
Jordon to Tone Down Islamic Bombast in Textbooks: By Middle Eastern standards, Jordanian schoolbooks are relatively free of bombast. But some textbooks used here to teach Islamic culture contain nefarious conspiracies that just will not go away. But if a committee reviewing the country's Islamic curriculum has its way, such talk, at least in the current form, is likely to become history. Facing growing extremism and rising security threats, educators are seeking to revamp their religious studies curriculum to cultivate a more thoughtful and open mind in a country that is among the more moderate of Arab states.
Deep Throat/Watergate: In a column in the Observer, writer Ron Rosenbaum says journalists should have invested their time in figuring out who ordered the break-in rather than who Deep Throat was. He lauds historian Stanley Kutler for providing tape transcripts that point to Nixon's having ordered the break-in."In this tape, Nixon starts off giving what will be his public line, the lie he will stick to; that he was shocked that burglars would choose to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, because political sophisticates know that party headquarters aren’t where the juicy stuff is to be found. 'My God, the committee isn’t worth bugging, in my opinion,' he tells Haldeman. But I didn’t give you Nixon’s full quote to Haldeman: 'My God, the committee isn’t worth bugging, in my opinion.' And then he says (and this is the phrase I singled out in my 1999 column): 'That’s my public line.' 'That’s my public line'! He had to lie to cover up the fact that he knew exactly why some burglars broke into where they did. As Mr. [David] Greenberg put it in his Times op-ed on July 29, 2003: '[A]s the journalist Ron Rosenbaum has noted, the wording ["public line"] implies that he had some private suspicion to the contrary.' (To say the least.)"
Week of 6-6-05 SATURDAY
Public Broadcasting Targeted By House: A House subcommittee voted Thursday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as"Sesame Street,""Reading Rainbow,""Arthur" and"Postcards From Buster." In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million.
Senators Question Tax Breaks Taken by Donors to Conservation Groups: During three hours of intense questioning on Wednesday, key U.S. senators took aim at one of the country's best-known charities while calling into question improper practices at many organizations and laying the groundwork for legislation that could affect all types of nonprofit groups. Eleven members of the Senate Finance Committee -- the most who have attended any of the committee's three nonprofit hearings in the past year -- listenedclosely as committee staff members detailed findings from their two-year investigation into land sales and other deals at the Nature Conservancy, the nation's wealthiest conservation organization. The staff recommended big changes in how conservation groups operate, urged the conservancy to take action to prevent future improper activities, and called on the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on conservation groups
Israeli Soldiers Involved in 2002 Reprisal Killings Come Forward: Three of the soldiers have now spoken in separate interviews to The Washington Post: Levi and two others who were not willing to disclose their names because they said they were ashamed of what they did and feared they could be harassed for coming forward. This account of what happened that night is based upon their detailed descriptions, supplemented by other interviews and newspaper articles from the time. All three former soldiers -- two combat engineers and a paratrooper -- are college students in their mid-twenties who look back at their time on active duty with a deep sense of regret and anger. They say they are speaking out to expose what they believe was an unjustified killing operation. One says he is so sickened by what happened that he informed his girlfriend only last weekend and has yet to tell his parents.
Panel Finds Gaps in Between Two Side's View of History: Japanese and South Korean historians expressed sharply conflicting positions on key historical events involving the two countries in a report released Friday as part of a bilateral project aimed at promoting mutual understanding and bridging gaps in history perceptions. A joint study committee comprising scholars from the two countries was divided particularly over Japan's 1910 annexation of the Korean Peninsula and postwar indemnity, for which South Korea abandoned its claim when the two countries normalized relations in 1965.
MIA's May Be a Thing of the Past: From the Civil War onward, in this nation's wartime experience, families sent their loved ones off to serve -- and many simply vanished in the fog of war: vaporized in explosions, buried hastily in unmarked graves or trapped in remote crash sites or in underwater wreckage. The bitter agony for the families, perhaps nourishing hope that one day the missing will turn up alive, runs like a livid scar through generations. But two years of conflict in Iraq and three years in Afghanistan have produced an unusual clarity: The fighting has left 1,875 Americans dead and 13,337 wounded, according to the Defense Department, but only one MIA. He is Army Sgt. Keith Maupin of Batavia, Ohio. What's changed, strategists and historians say, is that in the current fighting with hit-and-run insurgents, U.S. forces control the terrain as they did not in World War II, Korea or even Vietnam, so that the dead can be recovered.
Cox Nomination Raises Questions: "This is rather new for the SEC, to have a sitting member of Congress," said Carla L. Rosati, executive director of the SEC Historical Society, a nonprofit group in Washington. The situation is so unusual that the agency's ethics guidelines do not cover the issue of political donations, according to an SEC spokesman. Neither do rules adopted by the Office of Government Ethics, which is charged with preventing conflicts of interest in the executive branch. Its impartiality provisions cover potential conflicts such as legal or consulting work performed for former clients in private practice -- but not campaign cash. Cox has received more than $250,000 from securities firms and $200,000 from accounting firms in the course of his congressional tenure, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Cox's spokesman referred calls to the White House.
Senate Apologizes for Lynchings: If the Senate had acted years ago, Allen said,"it would have sent a signal" that the government did not condone lynching."If leaders are quiet, there is a sense in the general population that this sort of violent, vile behavior or conduct is acceptable," he said. The current effort to secure an apology was born out of a broader movement to ask Congress to acknowledge wrongs toward African Americans, including slavery, Planning said."This would be the first time in history that Congress has apologized for past historical crimes against African Americans," said Planning, adding that the Senate has apologized to Native Americans, Japanese Americans andother groups.
Kerry's Records May Not Be Complete: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth head John O'Neill, who raised many of the charges against Kerry during the campaign, was challenged by Kerry on"Meet the Press" in January. Kerry promised he would sign his Standard Form 180, but he wanted former Swift Boat officer O'Neill to sign as well. O'Neill did sign it and provided copies to the Chicago Sun-Times. According to O'Neill,"The Standard Form 180 could release 'the full military and medical records.' Or it could release just a few. It all depends on how it is filled out and where it was sent." Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has already found a discrepancy confirmed by the Department of the Navy of"at least a hundred pages" missing from those already disclosed by Kerry.
Murder Affects Small Town: "When [the Till murder] happened, it created in us a spirit of fighting and a determination that we could not stand by and let these things happen," he said. Whites panicked that blacks would come from the North and kill them, Jordan said. Blacks feared there would be more killings at the hands of whites."Everybody was scared. We hadn't had anything like that happen that close to us," said Mary Jackson, 76, whose husband helped pull Till's body from the river. Her husband has died; she still lives in the community."The only way we could fight back was to stop shopping at their stores. It just didn't seem right to keep going in there with them killing our people." Without black customers, the stores eventually closed. Bryant and his wife divorced. Carolyn Bryant remarried and still lives in the delta. Roy Bryant moved to Texas for a while but returned to Mississippi, where nearly blind and out of work, he died of cancer in 1994. After the men's story in Look, many whites turned against them.
Week of 6-6-05 FRIDAY
US Vets of Israeli Attack Seek Probe: Survivors of a U.S. spy ship attacked by Israeli fighters and torpedo boats 40 years ago are pressing the Pentagon for a full investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes for a strike that caused 205 casualties, including 34 killed. The attack on the USS Liberty occurred in international waters during the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel, Egypt and other Arab nations. The survivors claim the attack itself was a violation of the Geneva Conventions regulating conduct of war and that further crimes occurred when Israeli sailors fired at rescuers and firefighters on the ship's bullet-riddled deck and into rubber life rafts thrown into the water to pick up survivors.
Presidential Faces: Political beauty is apparently skin deep. Researchers in the United States have determined that voters are a shallow lot; that the winners of electoral races can be predicted about 70 per cent of the time based on whether their facial features make them appear more or less competent than their opponents."Our findings have challenging implications for the rationality of voting preferences," the researchers say in today's issue of Science."Consequential decisions can be more 'shallow' than we would like to believe." Alexander Todorov of Princeton University's psychology department was the lead researcher on the project. He and his colleagues tested more than 800 people, through seven or eight different studies, by showing them black-and-white head shots of winners and runners-up in electoral races and asking which person they perceived to be more competent. In one study, the subjects were given just one second with each photo to make a decision.
Celebrities' Military Records: From the likes of Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan to Ted Williams and Joe Louis, the U.S. military has a long history of taking celebrities into its ranks, usually with happy results. Jimmy Stewart, after all, enlisted right after Pearl Harbor and went on to fly 20 combat missions as a command pilot in World War II. But documents released Thursday by the National Archives suggest that sometimes the brass must have wondered whether the famous names were worth the trouble -- Elvis Presley, for instance, Steve McQueen or the pied piper of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac.
French & Indian War: History lessons don't have to be confined to classrooms. This summer, they're being given outdoors. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the start of the French and Indian War in New York. The 18th-century conflict began in Pennsylvania in 1754 and ended in Canada in 1760, but in between, most of the key events of the war -- from set-piece battles to bloody forest ambushes -- took place in upstate New York. Beginning this summer, historic sites from Fort Ticonderoga along the Vermont line to Old Fort Niagara in western New York are hosting a five-year series of events, including battle re-enactments and colonial military encampments.
Pirates :Sinceits discovery in 1996, Shipwreck Site 0003BUI has drawn journalists, television crews, and thousands of curious tourists and pirate enthusiasts to this subdued port and resort town on the central Carolina coast. The wreck's location, size, age, and contents seem to match what is known about Queen Anne's Revenge, the 40-gun pirate ship that Blackbeard ran aground here in November 1717."I tell you, I just can't believe people's level of interest in pirates," says Mr. Wilde-Ramsing, an underwater archaeologist who is managing the careful excavation of the site for the state of North Carolina."It's like dinosaurs, Robin Hood, or the Wild West: People really want to know about this stuff." In recent years, experts have been able to piece together a far clearer picture of Blackbeard,"Black Sam" Bellamy, Bartholomew Roberts, and other participants in the so-called"Golden Age" of piracy in the early 18th century.
Team of Chinese, Japanese and Korean Historians Publish Joint Modern History: Two months after another flare-up in the on-going row over Japanese history textbooks, historians from China, Japan and South Korea yesterday released what they described as a combined"truthful" version of the region's modern past. The book, entitled The Modern History of Three Countries in East Asia, is the first effort of its kind undertaken by quasi or non-governmental bodies and was simultaneously published in the three countries. It traces the history of each country from the 19th century until the present and includes sections on Japan's invasion of China and Korea.
Philadelphia Requires Black Studies: Philadelphia high school students must take a course in African and African-American history as a requirement for graduating starting with the next freshman class, officials said on Thursday. The move makes the school district of Philadelphia the first in America to make such a course a mandatory part of the curriculum. About 65 percent of Philadelphia's 185,000 students are African American.
5 Term Chicago Mayer Struggles to Escape Father's Legacy: Mayor Richard M. Daley, who will host the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting here today, is arguably one of the most powerful local leaders in the country. Daley grew up in a family whose name is synonymous with Chicago. His father, Richard J. Daley -- who some here refer to as"Richard the First" -- was a controversial backroom dealer: Foes saw him as manipulating a corrupt political system, but allies said he was responsible for helping Chicago's business community and culture to blossom. On Thursday, the head of one trucking company pleaded guilty to mail fraud in conjunction with payoffs to land Hired Truck jobs. The executive said he contributed money to political groups to remain in the program's good graces. Some of the donations were to the 11th Ward Democratic organization -- headed by Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the mayor's brother -- and the Committee to Elect John Daley. In the water department scandal, nine employees -- including an in-law of Daley's brother -- were removed from their jobs last week after investigators reported that they had inflated their work hours by clocking in for one another on an electronic timecard system.
Mexico Voids Conviction of Ex-President's Brother: A judicial panel late Thursday voided the 1999 murder-conspiracy conviction of Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of a former president, overturning a verdict that Mexicans had applauded as proof that the politically mighty were no longer above the law. The three-judge panel's ruling on a defense appeal could clear the way for the flamboyant multimillionaire's release after more than 10 years in prison. He is serving a 27 1/2 -year sentence for the 1994 shooting of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, a political rival who was the No. 2 official in Mexico's long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Memo on 9/11 Plotters Blocked: A chilling new detail of U.S. intelligence failures emerged Thursday, when the Justice Department disclosed that about 20 months before the Sept. 11 attacks, a CIA official had blocked a memo intended to alert the FBI that two known Al Qaeda operatives had entered the country. The two men were among the 19 hijackers who crashed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.
Week of 6-6-05 Thursday
Posada Boasted of Plans to"Hit" Cuban Plane: Luis Posada Carriles spoke of plans to"hit" a Cuban airliner only days before Cubana flight 455 exploded on October 6, 1976, killing all 73 passengers aboard, according to a declassified CIA document from 1976 posted by the National Security Archive today. The unusually detailed intelligence was provided by a source described as"a former Venezuelan government official" who"is usually a reliable reporter," according to the secret report.
Historian Monk Claimed to Have Witnessed Events Via Time Travel Device: "His gestures, his intonation; how powerful they were! What flights of oratory," writes Father Pellegrino Ernetti, describing a speech by Marcus Tullius Cicero to the Roman senate in 63BC. Ernetti, who died in 1992, was a Benedictine monk, a respected historian of ancient music, author, physicist and exorcist; but what makes his description of Cicero intriguing is that he claims to have witnessed it at first hand. Well, sort of. Ernetti actually told the French theologian Father Francois Brune that he watched it live on a time-warping device called the Chronovisor. Rather than transporting people through time, the Chronovisor tuned into the events of the past and displayed them like a time-travelling television. Ernetti claimed to have developed the Chronovisor during the 1950s with 12 famed scientists who, except for Enrico Fermi and Wernher Von Braun (both dead when their names were published in 1992), wished to be anonymous. It consisted of numerous antennae, three composed of"mysterious" metals, which received light and sound signals on every wavelength; a"direction finder" for tuning to a particular time and place; a screen and a recording device.
Turkish University Cancels Genocide Conference: Amid allegations of treason and following an extraordinary intervention by a senior minister, Bosphorus University in Istanbul postponed a conference of Turkish historians which was to discuss the fate of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian inhabitants in 1915 and 1916. The university's decision caused an outcry in Turkey and dismayed diplomats in Ankara, who say the suppression of the views expected to be aired at the conference raises questions about Turkey's commitment to academic freedom and open debate on Turkish history.
Global Economy Is Less Risky Than a Few Years, or Even Decades Ago: Overseas, the European Union faces new perils. Russia is moving away from free-market capitalism. And China is growing so fast that it threatens to ignite inflation or deflation (take your pick). Yes, financial crises seem to come and go more frequently than in the past. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear that, on average, the world economy has become less risky than it was a few years - or even a few decades - ago. It's"rather a peaceful period," says Nick Crafts, an economic historian at the London School of Economics, who has compared this era to previous ones. It's volatile politics - not economics - that should make people uneasy, concludes Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, the world's largest political-risk consultancy. Messrs. Crafts and Bremmer spoke at a recent Merrill Lynch seminar in London.
Pirates, Victims of 18th-Century Propaganda Campaign: The early 18th century, Mr. Kinkor notes, was a time of growing centralization of economic and political control, with a rising gap between rich and poor, and when working conditions on sugar plantations, tobacco farms, and merchant and naval ships had become more exploitative than in the past. Pirates, by contrast, ran their ships democratically, voting their captains in and out of power, making important decisions collectively, providing benefits to injured crew, and sharing food and loot equally. Aboard Bellamy's ship, Whydah, which was wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod in a 1717 storm, Kinkor's colleagues found 100 pieces of African gold jewelry that had been broken up to divide among the crew.
New Judge Sees Slavery in Liberalism: Janice Rogers Brown, the African-American daughter of Alabama sharecroppers who was confirmed Wednesday to the federal appeals court here, often invokes slavery in describing what she sees as the perils of liberalism." In the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery," she has warned in speeches. Society and the courts have turned away from the founders' emphasis on personal responsibility, she has argued, toward a culture of government regulation and dependency that threatens fundamental freedoms."We no longer find slavery abhorrent," she told the conservative Federalist Society a few years ago."We embrace it." She explained in another speech,"If we can invoke no ultimate limits on the power of government, a democracy is inevitably transformed into a kleptocracy - a license to steal, a warrant for oppression."
NEH Budget Increase: Late in the day of 9 June 2005, the United States Senate Interior Appropriations Committee issued its recommendations for the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill. The committee recommended a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and also a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). It was history champion Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) who advanced the amendment; he was joined in the effort by Republican senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Larry Craig (R-ID). Byrd dominated the proceedings and spoke passionately and at length about the importance of history. He stated,"we don't pay enough attention to history...we ought to appropriate more for history."
Actio to Save Funding for the NHPRC: The effort to restore funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) continues. Next week, on 15 June, the House subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia will announce their funding recommendations for the NHPRC. The exact figure the committee will advance has not been released though inside sources report there will be funding for both the grants and program administrative support functions. A few days later, on 21June, the House Appropriations Committee will report out their recommendations which will then be acted on by the full House shortly after that.
Freedom of Information Act: On 7 June 2005, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) re-introduced one section of their pending FOIA legislation (S. 394) as a stand-alone bill. If enacted, the legislation (S. 1181) would require that any future exemptions that Congress may enact to the FOIA must be explicitly flagged as such. According to Senator Cornyn,"Congress should not establish new secrecy provisions through secret means. If Congress is to establish a new exemption to FOIA, it should do so in the open and in the light of day." For the introductory statements on the bill here, go to: http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2005/s1181.html . The bill has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary for consideration.
Martin Luther King: On 23 May 2005, Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) introduced legislation (H.R. 2254) to provide for the"expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and assassination of Martin Luther King." The 21-page bill establishes a records review board similar to the one established years ago that investigated the John F. Kennedy assassination records. McKinney believes the legislation is necessary,"because the Freedom of Information Act, as implemented by the executive branch, has prevented the timely public disclosure of records relating to the life and assassination of Reverend D. Martin Luther King." The bill was referred to the House Committee on Government Reform for consideration.
History Channel Grants: Based on its success among history organizations and schools in 2004-2005, The History Channel, in collaboration with The American Association for State and Local History and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has announced its 2005-2006"Save Our History Grant Program." Last year, The History Channel awarded $250,000 in grants to twenty-nine local history organizations in twenty-seven states across the country. This year, awards totaling $250,000 in grants will once again be distributed to support history education and historic preservation with an emphasis on local history organizations that design and execute local history education and preservation projects in collaboration with local schools or youth groups.
Deep Throat: White House Not Taking Sides: Across official Washington, the story of"Deep Throat" captured the attention of those closest to the political heartbeat. And though the story was 30 years old, reactions to it divided along very 2005 lines: old vs. young, conservative vs. liberal, those with first-hand knowledge of the scandal and those without. Only the Bush administration, it seemed, was trying to stay neutral -"Well, I'm not in a judgmental mood," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday when asked whether Felt was a hero or scoundrel in the Watergate scandal that forced former President Richard Nixon to resign."I'm not knowledgeable enough to be in a position to judge it," said President George W. Bush.
Researchers Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in Ashkenazic Genes: A team of scientists at the University of Utah has proposed that the unusual pattern of genetic diseases seen among Jews of central or northern European origin, or Ashkenazim, is the result of natural selection for enhanced intellectual ability. The selective force was the restriction of Ashkenazim in medieval Europe to occupations that required more than usual mental agility, the researchers say in a paper that has been accepted by the Journal of Biosocial Science, published by Cambridge University Press in England. The hypothesis advanced by the Utah researchers has drawn a mixed reaction among scientists, some of whom dismissed it as extremely implausible, while others said they had made an interesting case, although one liable to raise many hackles.
New Patty Hearst Documentary Features Unseen Material: A riveting new documentary about hostage-turned-revolutionary Patty Hearst features unseen footage salvaged from destruction. 'This was huge; it was the biggest story in the country - maybe even the world," says British-born documentarist Robert Stone, director of Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst."It was like Paris Hilton getting kidnapped by Al Qaeda, turning to Islam and becoming a terrorist."
Slavery Reenactors Want to Reflect More of the Brutality.: Since last summer, when four African American"living history" volunteers raised complaints about scripts they were asked to read, managers at Historic Brattonsville, a museum and historic site, have been coping with the most awkward of personnel issues. First, the interpreters who played the slave bride and groom left, complaining that their characters were mindlessly happy. The man who played Watt, the Bratton family's most loyal slave, was dismissed after ad-libbing a dark, drunken soliloquy at the Christmas Candlelight Tour. The interpreter who plays the slave Big Jim is on a six-month"hiatus," unsure whether he can find common ground with management but talking about"systemic changes." The four have criticized the museum recently in local newspapers. It is an odd position for the museum's directors, who were proud of the progressive impulse that led them to emphasize slavery in their living-history programs. Across the South, lovingly kept plantations are open to the public; Confederate reenactors spend untold vacation days tracing their ancestors' footsteps. But historically, plantation museums have glossed over the subject of slavery.
French Toxicologist Backs Theory that Nepoleon Was Poisoned: New scientific evidence supports the theory that Napoleon Bonaparte was poisoned with arsenic during his second exile, a French toxicologist said Thursday. Pascal Kintz said he found traces of the poison in two strands of the French emperor's hair, supporting the conclusions of past tests.
Networking in Washington: Washington was riveted last week by the unveiling of the 30-year-old secret of Deep Throat, but behind all the talk about the ethics of leaks and the business of journalism was a gem of a parable about how the city really works. Aficionados ferreted it out instantly in the first paragraphs of Bob Woodward's tale, stripped across The Washington Post's front page, of how he first met W. Mark Felt in a chance encounter that Mr. Woodward called one of the most important of his life. In short, it was a lesson in what is now called networking, or the importance of personal relationships in the small town of the nation's capital. I play in my head when someone gets an appointment," said Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's"Hardball.""And I say, 'Now, how did that happen?' And then someone will say, 'Well, they went to school together,' or 'They live next door to each other,' or 'Their wives are friends.' And you go, 'Oh, yeah,' and it clicks." On the other hand, he said,"serendipity is a big part of our lives, but it grows in direct proportion to sociability." Or ambition. Bill Clinton and both George Bushes were often Olympic-class networkers who saw Washington as a hunting ground, which is one reason they got to the White House in the first place. But few in modern history can match Lyndon B. Johnson, who had skills for spotting and seducing power that are unrivaled today."Johnson had a genius for seeing who could help him, and making them like him," said Robert A. Caro, the Johnson biographer."Everybody in Washington networks, but nobody could do it like Lyndon Johnson." The quintessential L.B.J. story occurred in 1937, when the 28-year-old Johnson, a newly elected congressman from Texas, spent a day traveling across the state by train with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who promptly returned to Washington and told his powerful aide, Thomas G. Corcoran, according to Mr. Caro:"I've just met the most remarkable young man. Now, you're going to help him with anything you can."
Media Still Recovering from Watergate: Journalism, of course, has lost much of the luster it enjoyed during that golden era. The question for many in the profession last week was not whether Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been right to use Deep Throat as a secret source, but rather: How did the news media's image slip so badly? Robert Dallek, a biographer of Lyndon Johnson, said the news media may have suffered over the years by its own rise in prominence and by the public's general disillusionment in institutions generally. But, he said,"as a presidential historian who gets into the records 30, 35 years after the fact, I know how much manipulation there is, how much spin doctoring there is." Mr. Dallek, who is writing a book about the relationship between Nixon and Henry Kissinger, said that on Friday he taped a television interview with among others, Mr. Buchanan, who repeated his theory that there was a"political coup" against Nixon by the press.eam media -- ''the elites,'' as Nixon liked to call them -- and the political establishment.
Congressional Rookies Gain in Clout: As Congress returns from its Memorial Day break to face a busy summer, some unexpected new leaders are emerging to influence the legislative agenda. Freshmen, by tradition, are supposed to be more deferential than a Donald Trump apprentice, but some new members are breaking with that custom -- and, on occasion, party orthodoxy. It's a striking change in a place where the most important members had been the ones who served the longest.
Pope's Aide Disobeys Orders: The man who served Pope John Paul II as his private secretary for nearly 40 years has revealed he disobeyed the pontiff's last testament instruction to burn his papers because they were"great riches." Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, one of only two individuals mentioned by name in John Paul's will, said in an interview on Polish radio that there were"quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues," but refused to give any details. He suggested some of the material left by the pope could be useful in the process of beatification, announced by Pope Benedict XVI last month.
Carters Step Down from Center Board: Looking toward a slower paced future, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have stepped down as chairman and vice chairwoman of the Carter Center's board of trustees."Rosalynn and I see this as part of the ongoing process of preparing the Carter Center for the time when we no longer are active," the former president said in a statement Tuesday. The Carters will continue fund raising, election monitoring and other activities as the center's founders and namesakes.
Egyptian State Stifles Academics: Egypt's academic life is being stifled by intimidation and censorship imposed by the state, Human Rights Watch says. The repressive atmosphere has led to self-censorship in the country's universities, the US-based group adds. It listed a heavy police presence, strict censorship on library books and research topics as some of the main violations of academic freedom.
Alan Dershowitz Confronts DePaul Professor: Professor Alan Dershowitz from Harvard has created a website to criticize critic Norman Finkelstein, an untenured assistant professor at DePaul University.
Week of 6-6-05 Wednesday
Mystery of Chinese Major Buried in US War Hero Cemetery: As America's great imperial graveyard, Arlington National Cemetery sees more visitors on that weekend than at any other time of year. But one military grave which probably did not receive a flag, nor see any visitor, is that of Major Liu Nia-chien. Liu's grave, marked by a standard issue white stone, is located not far from the graves of general Jimmy Doolittle and Audie Murphy, both famous American heroes and Congressional Medal of Honour winners. Doolittle, a renowned pilot, led the famous 1942 air raid on Tokyo which was a highlight of the recent Hollywood film Pearl Harbour. Murphy was a young Texas farm boy who single -handedly killed more than 260 German soldiers and became the most decorated American soldier of any war. But there's a difference between Liu and his fellow honoured soldiers who rest nearby, beneath identical white marble gravestones. Unlike Doolittle and Murphy, Liu was neither an American nor famous. In fact, no one at Arlington seems to know anything at all about Liu, except what his grave stone reads:"Nia-chien Liu, Major, Chinese Army. October 19, 1946." Liu's grave is one of only 55 belonging to foreigners buried at Arlington. More than half of these are British or Canadian. The mysterious major is the sole Chinese among more than 260,000 graves.
Date Set for Civil Rights Trail: An 80-year-old reputed Ku Klux Klansman will stand trial as scheduled next week in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers despite injuries that are causing him discomfort, a judge ruled Wednesday. Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon said Edgar Ray Killen's trial will start Monday. But he said he will allow some accommodations to make the process less painful for Killen, who suffers from osteoarthritis and broke his legs March 10 while cutting a tree
Slavery in New York: Louise Mirrer, President, N-Y Historical Society, James Horton, Chief Curator and, co-author of Slavery and the Making of America and creator of the PBS documentary based upon the book, and Richard Rabinowitz, President, American History Workshop, cordially invite you to a press briefing offering a first look and overview of the Society's unprecedented and provocative new exhibition, Slavery in New York, which opens October 7. After nearly 400 years, the story of the enslaved Africans who built New York remains largely untold via public exhibition. The N-YHS is the richest single resource for new scholarship revealing the historical detail of the hidden world of New York’s enslaved peoples.
Brigham Young's Will: The purported original last will and testament of Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was sold at a Philadelphia auction house on Wednesday for a bid of $70,000. The amount was smack in the middle of the $60,000 to $80,000 sales price projected by the Alderfer Auction Company's experts. As leader of the church and the territorial governor of Utah, there was much call for Young to sign documents. Other documents and examples of his signatures have often been auctioned, but have mostly fetched between $1,000 and $10,000 depending on the quality and the type of record.
Framers of E.U. pact might take lesson from U.S. historyThe framers of the proposed European Union Constitution might be in better shape if they had taken a lead from the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Those who crafted the E.U. draft submitted it for ratification with a requirement that it be approved by all 25 member states. One rejection kills the whole deal. After 10 countries -- representing about 50 percent of the population of the E.U. states -- had ratified, France and the Netherlands turned it down by wide margins.
Stanford Lab Reveals Hidden Writing on Ancient Archimedes Text: A super-X-ray beam in Menlo Park is literally shedding new light on the achievements of an ancient titan of math and engineering who lived almost 23 centuries ago. Just as today's scientists learn the latest developments from journals such as Science and Nature, scholars circa A.D. 1000 consulted scientific writings etched in ink on goatskin parchments. A millennium later, time has seriously eroded these inky ruminations of scholars who perhaps scribbled within earshot of chanting monks, feudal lords, suffering serfs and armor- clanking knights.
First Map of America Makes $1m: A 500-year-old map which was the first to use the word"America" and the first to portray the Earth as a globe has been sold in London for $1,002,267 -- a world record.The amount paid for the 1507 Martin Waldseemuller map, also the first to distinguish north and south America and the first to depict the Pacific Ocean, was the highest ever for a single sheet map, auction house Christie's said.
de Villepin the Sorcerer: Is the new French prime minister a 'sorcerer' as well as a poet? The question of Dominique de Villepin's previously unrevealed psychic powers is raised in a book published by a reputable French author. Philippe Boggio recounts the first meeting eight years ago between M. de Villepin, 51, and the celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. During their conversation, M. de Villepin compared the philosopher and writer to 'a Christ without wounds'. Levy, now 56, was badly shaken by the comparison, and according to several sources" including his wife" woke that night bleeding from his palms.
Sub-hunter stumbles on real-life Nautilus: A British explorer has discovered an abandoned 19th-century submarine which may have been the inspiration for Captain Nemo's vessel Nautilus in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Colonel John Blashford-Snell found the cast-iron submarine, named Explorer, half-submerged in three metres of water off the coast of Panama. Like Nautilus, the craft is cigar-shaped and has a lock-out system, which allows submariners to leave, collect items from the seabed and then return to the vessel.
Interest in Missing Children Revived by Recent Sino-Japanese Conflict: The recent deterioration of Sino-Japanese ties has shone the spotlight on a little-known chapter of the second world war - the abduction of several thousand Guangdong children by Japanese troops. The children were sent to Japan in the closing stages of the war, but there is no information on their current whereabouts, although some efforts were made to locate them soon after their disappearance, a Guangzhou historian says.
Foreign Universities in Vietnam Are Ordered to Teach Communist Ideology: The government of Vietnam has ordered all Vietnamese students attending foreign-owned universities in the country to take courses in communist ideology and Ho Chi Minh political theory. According to the order, which was issued in April and made public last week,students must pass the following courses:"Marxist-Leninist Philosophy,""Marxist-Leninist Economics,""Scientific Socialism,""History of the Vietnamese Communist Party," and"Ho Chi Minh Thought."
Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming: A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents. In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.
The GOP Ban on French Appears to Have Ended: On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), spoke to a GOP women's gathering in New Hampshire, where he's clearly not running for president in 2008, and not only spoke the dread language but also initiated a little chat in French. Even worse, French-speakers say his accent is quite good and he was most comfortable bantering before his speech with a woman from a French-speaking African country.
Government Should Consider Temp Workers: Two University of Illinois-Chicago professors think it's time for the government to reconsider its workforce policies and seriously look at hiring temporary workers as a way to help offset the exodus of baby boomers and to help control payroll costs. In their report, James R. Thompson and Sharon H. Mastracci point out that federal personnel practices and policies are"in a period of profound change" but that Congress and federal agencies have paid little attention to"nonstandard work arrangements," such as part time, on call and other temporary staffing methods.
Japanese History Textbooks: Japan plans to accept studies on the contents of history textbooks in the second round of a joint history research project with South Korea, but the partial concession might not be enough to diffuse tensions between the two nations. The government intends to resume the joint history research this year and include textbooks used by students of both countries. Government officials from both countries are now trying to work out details of the proposal.
Colonialism/German Zoo Display: A German zoo has been accused of exploitation after it unveiled plans to put grass-skirted black men in mud huts to show off its elephants and rhinos in their"natural environment". The zoo, in the southern German city of Augsburg, is promoting the plan in a glossy brochure entitled Discover the Dark Continent. The human exhibits will be separated from the animals in an area where they can be observed easily by visitors, although it is not clear whether the people on display would be in the cages with the animals or in an entirely separate enclosure. Norbert Finzsch, a historian at the University of Cologne, said:"The idea is a direct result of 40 years of German colonialism and 12 years of National Socialism."People of colour are still seen as exotic objects, as basically dehumanised entities within the realm of animals."
FDR and the New Deal: In an opinion piece published by Town Hall, Jonah Goldberg argues that the idea that"The New Deal" was a defined, ideologically and intellectually coherent thing is nonsense, and also asks why liberals so uniformly admire FDR's"legacy." After all, Goldberg asserts, the military-industrial complex and the marriage of big business and government are as central to FDR's legacy as Social Security. Indeed, the notion that FDR had a clear idea about what he wanted to do, what needed to be done, or anything else that might be described as"New Deal" liberalism is poppycock, too, according to Goldberg.
Slavery Apology/US Senate: The great-great granddaughter of a black South Carolina farmer who was killed by a white mob nearly a century ago will be on hand next week when the Senate belatedly apologizes for failing to pass anti-lynching legislation. Doria Dee Johnson, an author and frequent lecturer on the subject of lynchings, says she will be in the chamber Monday when the Senate is expected to approve a resolution expressing remorse for not stopping a crime that took the lives of at least 4,742 people, mostly blacks, between 1882 and 1968. The Senate resolution, sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and George Allen, R-Va., notes that nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in the first half of the 20th century and that seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 petitioned Congress to end lynching. But nothing got through the Senate.
Privacy Rights: 40 years ago today – 1965 – the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed a right to privacy in the landmark decision of Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down Connecticut’s law forbidding married people from using contraception.
Class in America: There is an un-American secret at the heart of American culture: for a long time, it was preoccupied by class. (NYT Series)
John Kerry's Grades at Yale: Senator John Kerry's grade average at Yale University was almost identical to that of President Bush, his rival in the 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. Kerry had a cumulative average of 76, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday. He had four D's his freshman year - a 61 in geology, a 63 and a 68 in two history courses, and a 69 in political science. He also received one D in his sophomore year, The Globe reported. He graduated in 1966. The Democratic candidate for president, Mr. Kerry had previously declined to release his college transcript, which was included in his Navy records. He gave the Navy permission to release the documents last month, The Globe reported. The president's transcript was published in 1999 by The New Yorker magazine. It showed that Mr. Bush, who graduated in 1968, had a cumulative grade average of 77 in his first three years at Yale and a similar average under a nonnumeric rating system in his senior year.
Pinochet: An appeals court in Santiago voted to strip Gen. Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution in the investigation of $17 million he is said to have illegally obtained and deposited at scores of financial institutions in the United States during his 17-year rule. The ruling may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The former dictator won a round when another set of appeals judges vacated his indictment on kidnapping and murder charges in a case dealing with Operation Condor, a joint campaign by six South American military dictatorships to kill exiled political opponents in the 1970's. The judges said General Pinochet, 89, was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Week of 6-6-05 TUESDAY
Carter the Rescuer: Carter's interest in human rights is no secret. He made it a cornerstone of his presidency and has spoken out often since leaving the White House. He takes up the theme again at a conference starting today at the Carter Center. Less widely known, however, are Carter's many behind-the-scenes efforts to free political prisoners around the world. He has written hundreds of letters to heads of state and pressed them in private through the years. Historian Douglas Brinkley writes that"Carter was directly responsible for the release of approximately 50,000 political prisoners whose human rights had been violated" from 1981 to 1987. The Carter Center says it doesn't know the number of political prisoners freed at Carter's urging, and no one suggests political prisoners get out just because Carter asks.
Bush Predicts Democracy in Cuba: President Bush on Monday urged nations of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen their democracies by embracing free-market economies and cracking down on corruption, while pointedly predicting that Cuba will ultimately be swept up in the tide of liberty that has engulfed other countries in the hemisphere.
UK Beach Monkey Bone Revives Boney Legend: A bone found on a British beach has sparked renewed interest in one of the country's most curious myths - that a monkey washed ashore during the Napoleonic Wars was executed by suspicious locals for being a French spy. Police in Hartlepool, on the northeast coast of England, confirmed Friday that the one-foot (15 centimetre) bone found on a beach last month was not human, but came instead from a monkey or gorilla. The discovery has intrigued locals, given the town's curious folklore from the Anglo-French Napoleonic conflict, which lasted from 1793 to 1815. According to popular legend, a monkey dressed in a French uniform was washedashore at Hartlepool and tried by local magistrates on suspicion of being a French spy. Because it did not answer questions they presumed the animal was guilty, and it was hanged from a lampost.
HPSCI Calls for Prosecution of Leaks: The Department of Justice should"place a higher priority on investigating and prosecuting illegal disclosures of classified information," the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) said in its new report on the 2006 Intelligence Authorization Act."Hundreds of 'leaks' have been reported to the Department over the past ten years, without a single indictment or prosecution," the House Committee complained, echoing similar findings in the report of the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission.
Watergate's Legacy: Shortly after a 91-year-old man was revealed last week as the answer to the 30-year-old mystery of the Watergate affair, President Bush cast the scandal as something from the distant past."A lot of people wondered … who 'Deep Throat' was, including me," Bush said after news broke that FBI official W. Mark Felt had been the source leaking Watergate details to the press."It would kind of fade from my memory, and then all of a sudden, somebody would pop it back in. Some story would reinvigorate that period." And yet, far more than Bush has publicly acknowledged, Watergate and its aftermath have exerted a strong influence on the policies and attitudes of the president and others now in the White House — some of whom had front-row seats for the scandal as members of the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Medical History/Disease Names: Some of the most famous people in the world are virtually unknown to millions of people who mention them every day: JOHN LANGDON-DOWN, ALOIS ALZHEIMER, JAMES PARKINSON. Little more is widely known about these people than the names, which have been given to some of the most serious diseases afflicting humanity. But their lives were often remarkable, both in and out of the medical sphere. As Down's Awareness Week gets under way, the BBC looks at the lives behind the names of some of the world's most well known diseases.
Week of 6-6-05 MONDAY
Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents: Two years into the war in Iraq, as the Army and Marines struggle to refill their ranks, parents have become boulders of opposition that recruiters cannot move. Mothers and fathers around the country said they were terrified that their children would have to be killed - or kill - in a war that many see as unnecessary and without end.
Papers reveal JFK efforts on Vietnam: Newly uncovered documents from both American and Polish archives show that President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Union secretly sought ways to find a diplomatic settlement to the war in Vietnam, starting three years before the United States sent combat troops.
Nixon and the FBI: The White House Tapes: There are few references in the surreptitiously recorded Nixon Tapes to W. Mark Felt, the former high-level FBI official recently unmasked as "Deep Throat," but the tapes are full of examples of the White House's relationship with the FBI and Nixon's thinking about a successor for J. Edgar Hoover. This sampling of tapes and transcripts, made available by the National Security Archive, shows the White House reaction to the death of Hoover, the transition to new management at the Bureau, and the seeds of bureaucratic tensions that set the stage for Felt's "Deep Throat" leaks of information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. In the first conversation (717-10), just hours after Hoover's death, President Nixon, Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler, and Chief of Staff, H. R. "Bob" Haldeman discuss the details of Hoover's death, the press reaction, and possible venues for a memorial service. Nixon was determined to have Hoover buried at Arlington National Cemetary and to conduct a large memorial service--contrary to the FBI director's wishes. Nixon told Haldeman, "By God, go out there and put a torch on the boy." Playing to Nixon's sentiments and alluding to Hoover's conflict with Robert Kennedy, Haldeman opines "The last thing he'd want is to be anywhere near Bobby Kennedy."
Alexander Dumas: Alexandre Dumas was such a prolific author - 200 books published in his lifetime - that the appearance of a new novel 135 years after his death ought not to be a surprise. The only question might be: what took the dead man so long? In French bookshops this week - and already attracting attention from film-makers and foreign publishers - is a"new" novel by the author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The 1,000-page tome provides its own answer to the question of who killed Admiral Horatio Nelson, as its hero is the man who pulled the trigger to kill England's celebrated sailor.
Egyptian History/Egyptian Historian: A leading Egyptian historian’s memoirs, targeting the nation’s youth, has sparked debate about how national identity is constructed and about academic politics. Dr. Raouf Abbas believes it is imperative for students at all levels to study history."The United States would rather all Third World countries stopped teaching national history," Abbas grumbles."This is their way of achieving dominance in the age of globalization. They do not want us to form a national identity. At the same time, they foster national education in their own schools," he says. The historian / history professor / renowned public intellectual / chairman of the Egyptian Society for Historical Studies has has verbalized what others have secretly felt.
First Court Case of Hussein Stems From Killings in Village in '82:, The Iraqi court set up to hear cases against Saddam Hussein and his top aides plans to bring him to trial by late summer or early fall in its first case, involving the 1982 killings of nearly 160 men from Dujail, a predominantly Shiite village north of Baghdad, after he survived an assassination attempt there, according to a senior Iraqi court official...
Members of Sept. 11 Panel Press for Information on Terror Risk:: Members of the Sept. 11
commission, fearing that the Bush administration and Congress will never act
on some of their recommendations, are joining together almost a year after completing
their final report to press the White House for information showing whether
the government has done enough to prevent another catastrophic terrorist attack,
commission officials said.
The officials said the 10 commissioners, acting through a private group they founded last summer, will present a letter within days to Andrew H. Card Jr., President Bush's chief of staff, asking the White House to allow the group to gather detailed information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies about the government's recent performance in dealing with terrorist threats...
But many of the report's other recommendations have not been acted on, including its call for an overhaul of Congressional intelligence oversight, for the establishment of unified radio frequencies allowing emergency workers around the country to communicate; and for the appointment of a federal civil liberties board to prevent constitutional abuses by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
In an interview on Friday in his offices at Drew University in Madison, N.J., where he will step down as president this month, Mr. Kean said that he had been gratified by many of the actions of Mr. Bush and Congress in responding to the commission's recommendations, especially the creation of the intelligence director's job and the appointment of John D. Negroponte, the former American ambassador to the United Nations and to Iraq, to the post.
Tiananmen Square: Saturday marked the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests, in which hundreds are believed to have died. Yet China has dismissed US calls to give a full account of the people who were killed, detained or went missing during pro-democracy protests 16 years ago. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said the US should pay more attention to its own human rights violations.
Military Records: Archivists are about to unseal a mother lode of military history. A ceremony Saturday at the National Personnel Records Center in Overland, Mo., will mark the opening of military files that until now have been off-limits to most Americans. Among the gems: Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's rating in mid-1944 of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. The report closes with these words on Patton:"A brilliant fighter and leader. Impulsive and quick-tempered. Likely to speak in public in an ill-considered fashion."
Armenian Genocide/Turkish Scholars Protest: In the last week, Turkey has again shown that its actions run contrary to the rosy image it tries to portray of itself as a mature and democratic nation ready for EU membership. The forced postponement of an unprecedented Armenian Genocide conference at Bosphrous University had led hundreds of Turkish academics to protest the government's latest assault on free speech.
Thousands of stolen Iraqi artifacts found: Archaeologist and Iraqi museum director Donny George was conciliatory at the National Arts Club, where he told a well-heeled audience that he was 'satisfied' with the level of financial and technical support to rebuild the shattered museum. Asked whether the Pentagon had offered an apology for failing to guard the museum, Mr. George said U.S. assistance allowed his staff to rebuild the museum's offices and galleries, install new security systems and create computer networks where there had been none. 'I will take that as an apology, he said...[he] has been retained [as National Museum director] by the transitional government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. In the meantime, Mr. George said, he has asked [foreign] governments to document and hold on to what they intercept until Iraq is more stable. Thousands of missing pieces are presumed to be inside Iraq, where a corps of mostly untrained volunteers has been scouring markets in search of the missing antiquities.
DNA: Researchers have sequenced the DNA of two extinct cave bears and say their method is accurate enough to try doing it on extinct humans such as Neanderthals, according to a report published on Thursday. The cave bears are the first extinct animals to have their genes sequenced, and the findings can be used to determine the precise relationship between the 40,000-year-old bears and living species. But the main message is that the technique should be useful in examining Neanderthal DNA, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Medieval Diet: GLASWEGIANS in 1405 had a better diet than the citizens of 2005, eating their"five-a-day" 600 years ahead of its time. Even their light beer was healthier than sugar-laden fizzy concoctions that are today's favourite, according to new archaeological evidence. It reveals a diet of porridge and small amounts of pork and fish made medieval mealtime more nutritious than a visit to the chippy, the pizza parlour or the ubiquitous American fast food joints.
Watergate/Grandsons of Nixon & Felt Are Friends: Nicholas T. Jones and Jarett A. Nixon, law school classmates here, have exchanged tales about Costa Rica, where Mr. Nixon was born and Mr. Jones enjoyed traveling. They have practiced speaking Spanish together, and at one point last year, Mr. Nixon, 28, tried to recruit Mr. Jones, 23, to work on a law journal at the school, the Hastings College of the Law."He's a good guy," Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Jones."We've had a friendly relationship." What neither man knew until the identity of Deep Throat was revealed this week, however, was that they come from opposite sides of one of the most profound divides in modern American political history. Mr. Nixon's great-uncle, whom he recalls fondly as Uncle Dick, was President Richard M. Nixon, a relationship he had never shared with Mr. Jones. His grandfather, Donald Nixon, was the president's brother.
Watergate/Unsolved Mysteries: WITH the unmasking of Deep Throat, one of the 20th century's biggest political mysteries has been solved. But other riddles about Watergate linger. Did Nixon order the Watergate break-in? What was the purpose of the break-in? What was lost in the 181/2-minute gap in the White House tapes? Who erased the tape? Why didn't Nixon destroy the tapes?
Deep Throat/Mark Felt's Past in WW II Espionage: W. Mark Felt, whose cloak-and-dagger methods contributed to his mystique as Deep Throat, learned the black arts of spying during World War II when, as a young F.B.I. agent, he ran a case, code-named Peasant, in which he used a compromised German agent to feed the Third Reich false information. Mr. Felt drew on his espionage experience in 1972 when he insisted that the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward take circuitous routes to their clandestine meetings in an underground parking garage and use elaborate communications signals that were recounted by Mr. Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their book"All the President's Men."
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