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Washington Post

  • Originally published 09/04/2014

    Ronald Reagan’s No. 1 superfan now runs the Washington Post

    "Fred Ryan, who's just been named the Post's new publisher, is among the more Reagan-y people to ever walk the earth -- somewhat less Reagan-y than Ronald Reagan himself, but probably more Reagan-y than Nancy Reagan or other members of the Reagan family."

  • Originally published 04/16/2014

    A Pitiful Pulitzer Pick

    Max Boot

    The Pulitzer Prize board has just managed to do the impossible.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Charles C. Haynes: Dispelling the Myth of a ‘Christian Nation’

    Charles C. Haynes is senior scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center and director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum in Washington.Culture warriors, pseudo historians and opportunistic politicians have spent the last several decades peddling the myth that America was founded as a “Christian nation.”The propaganda appears to be working. A majority of the American people (51 percent) believes that the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the State of the First Amendment survey released last month by the First Amendment Center.Because language about a Christian America has long been a staple of Religious Right rhetoric, it’s not surprising that acceptance of this patently false interpretation of the Constitution is strongest among evangelicals (71 percent) and conservatives (67 percent).But even many non-evangelical Christians (47 percent) and liberals (33 percent) appear to believe the fiction of a constitutionally mandated Christian America is historical fact.Forgive me for being snippy, but read the Constitution....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    At Congressional Cemetery, goats eating their way through an acre of poison ivy

    The herd of 25 goats rumbled into Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington on Wednesday morning, passing tombstones engraved with words such as “The Honorable” and “HOOVER” (as in FBI legend J. Edgar.)They had been taken there for a mission. Over the next week, the goats are supposed to eat more than an acre’s worth of poison ivy and English ivy, which are imperiling the historic cemetery’s trees and endangering the gravestones.The 206-year-old cemetery, owned by Christ Church of Washington and run by a nonprofit group, figures the goats are a cheaper, less toxic way of cleaning up the 35-acre property, which borders the Anacostia Watershed....

  • Originally published 07/30/2013

    Woman arrested after green paint found on organ at National Cathedral

    A wave of vandalism continued to mar some of Washington’s more popular landmarks Monday with at least three more attractions spattered with green paint, and authorities announced the arrest of a woman near one of the incidents at Washington National Cathedral.The latest crimes occurred three days after the Lincoln Memorial was hit in similar fashion. On Monday, the light-green paint was discovered on an organ in the cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel, in the cathedral’s Children’s Chapel and on the granite base of a statue next to the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall.D.C. police said Monday evening that they had charged Jiamei Tian, 58, whom they believe to be homeless, with one count of defacing property.The mysterious markings on the statue of Abraham Lincoln blemished one of the country’s most visited attractions and an iconic symbol of freedom. In the cathedral, they tarnished what is widely known as the nation’s house of worship — and a building still under repair after an earthquake two years ago caused such severe damage that it closed for three months....

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    Paul Pirie: The American Revolution Was a Flop

    Paul Pirie, a former historian, is a freelance writer in Ontario.The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    James P. Byrd: Was the American Revolution a Holy War?

    James P. Byrd is an associate dean at Vanderbilt University and the author of “Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution.” Holy war can seem like something that happened long ago or that happens far away — the Crusades of medieval Europe, for example, or jihadists fighting secular forces today. But since their country’s founding, Americans have often thought of their wars as sacred, even when the primary objectives have been political.This began with the American Revolution. When colonists declared their independence on July 4, 1776, religious conviction inspired them. Because they believed that their cause had divine support, many patriots’ ardor was both political and religious. They saw the conflict as a just, secular war, but they fought it with religious resolve, believing that God endorsed the cause. As Connecticut minister Samuel Sherwood preached in 1776: “God Almighty, with all the powers of heaven, are on our side. Great numbers of angels, no doubt, are encamping round our coast, for our defense and protection.”

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Newseum draws visitors but loses money

    WASHINGTON — In five years since moving to its new home overlooking the U.S. Capitol, the Newseum has become a major attraction with 4 million people visiting its exhibits about journalism and the First Amendment. Yet it’s been struggling mightily to cover its costs.Public financial documents reviewed by The Associated Press show revenue fell short of expenses by millions of dollars in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Its parent organization, the Freedom Forum, has used its endowment to provide the bulk of the Newseum’s operating revenue since its creation, and the endowment’s principal value has steadily declined from $600 million to about $373 million at the end of 2011.Nonprofit management consultants say it’s worrisome for a museum to be relying so heavily on a shrinking endowment, but the Newseum’s top executive says it’s not in financial trouble....

  • Originally published 06/30/2013

    Civil War historian makes Gettysburg his focus and his home

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The wheat had been flattened in the somber field where the dead Confederates were lined up for burial in 1863.Forty-four bodies, some with their legs tied together to make them easier to carry, had been gathered by their comrades. But there was no time to dig the graves, and this was how the photographers found them, laid out on the trampled ground.William A. Frassanito, the reclusive historian of Civil War photography, is standing in the woods just outside the field at sunset, explaining how he located this spot after it had been lost for more than a century.It’s quiet now, except for the cooing of mourning doves and the lowing of cattle that graze in the knee-high grass....

  • Originally published 06/18/2013

    William Z. Slany, historian who exposed Nazi theft of Jewish property, dies at 84

    William Z. Slany, a top State Department historian who helped oversee a study in the 1990s that exposed Nazi looting of Jewish property and that led to $8 billion in belated compensation for Holocaust victims and their families, died May 13 at his home in Reston. He was 84.The cause was heart ailments, said his former wife, Beverly Zweiben.Dr. Slany was the State Department’s chief historian from 1982 until his retirement in 2000. He drew the most attention for a massive, two-part study that burrowed into the history of Nazi Germany to expose the methodical theft of Jewish property.The stolen assets encompassed jewelry and other valuables belonging to victims of the regime’s persecution. The looting was so extreme as to include gold teeth taken from concentration camp victims....

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    What the Washington Post Gets Wrong About Boomer Suicides

    Leonard Steinhorn

    Image via Shutterstock."How did a generation that started out with so much going for it end up so despondent in midlife?"So asks the Washington Post in its recent front page story, "Why the sharp rise in suicides by boomers?"

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Jack Bemporad, Marshall Preger, and Suhail A. Khan: Muslims Reflect on the Holocaust

    Rabbi Jack Bemporad is Director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding (New Jersey), and Director of the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Pontifical Angelicum University (Rome).Professor Marshall Breger is Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America; former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and liaison to the Jewish community.Suhail A Khan is Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Engagement in Washington, DC and former liaison to the Muslim community for President George W. Bush.

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, dies at 74

    Ray Manzarek, who studied economics in college but cherished music and met with Jim Morrison on a California beach one fateful day in 1965 to help create the Doors, died May 20 at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany.Mr. Manzarek, 74, who had lived for years in California’s Napa County, had bile duct cancer.Led by the charismatic Morrison, with his mystical wildness and commanding physical presence, and driven by the power of Mr. Manzarek on the organ, the band worked its way into the soul of the 1960s counterculture.Much of what the Doors became known for was owed to Mr. Manzarek, with his penchant for blending musical streams and currents, old and new, from blues to classical, with spoken poetry and an overlay of the psychedelic....

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Al Kamen: A Step Back on Cabinet Diversity

    Al Kamen writes for the Washington Post.Important segments of President Obama’s base have been hammering him for not appointing enough Latinos and African Americans — and no gays — to his second-term Cabinet.Thirty-two years ago, when Ronald Reagan’s first-term team was coming together, the Cabinet included one woman, U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and one African American, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel Pierce.But the number of women and minorities increased later in Reagan’s term, and he named the first Hispanic Cabinet member.Quick Loop Quiz! Who was that person?Ah, you guessed it: Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Syrian castles serve as fighting positions

    Beirut — A Shiite king ruled northern Syria more than a millennium ago from behind the towering walls of the citadel in the city of Aleppo. In later centuries, Arab armies repelled medieval crusaders from the hilltop fortress, Mongol invaders damaged it and Ottomans used it as a military barracks.By 2011, the citadel had settled into what seemed a comfortable retirement as a UNESCO world heritage site and tourist attraction, illuminated at night by artistic ground lights and surrounded below by the bustling cafes of Aleppo’s old city.But today, in the third year of a bloody civil war that has killed more than 70,000 Syrians, the hulking citadel has resumed its strategic role of earlier eras. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have taken position in it to shell their enemies, and Syrian opposition fighters say they are desperate to capture it. For both sides, what was true in war then is true now: Those who control the citadel have the power to alter the front lines....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Cannibalism confirmed at Jamestown

    The first chops, to the forehead, did not go through the bone and are perhaps evidence of hesitancy about the task. The next set, after the body was rolled over, were more effective. One cut split the skull all the way to the base.“The person is truly figuring it out as they go,” said Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution.In the meantime, someone — perhaps with more experience — was working on a leg. The tibia bone is broken with a single blow, as one might do in butchering a cow.That’s one possible version of an event that took place sometime during the winter of 1609-1610 in Jamestown. What’s not in doubt is that some members of that desperate colony resorted to cannibalism in order to survive....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Washington Post Editorial: Shinzo Abe’s Inability to Face History

    FROM THE MOMENT last fall when Shinzo Abe reclaimed the office of Japanese prime minister that he had bungled away five years earlier, one question has stood out: Would he restrain his nationalist impulses — and especially his historical revisionism — to make progress for Japan?Until this week, the answer to that question was looking positive. Mr. Abe has taken brave steps toward reforming Japan’s moribund economy. He defied powerful interest groups within his party, such as rice farmers, to join free-trade talks with the United States and other Pacific nations that have the potential to spur growth in Japan. He spoke in measured terms of his justifiable desire to increase defense spending.

  • Originally published 04/30/2013

    For Stonewall Jackson, a final victory that led to Confederate catastrophe

    At 5:15 p.m. on May 2, 1863, a doomed Confederate officer with striking blue eyes sat on his horse holding his pocket watch in the Virginia wilderness west of Fredericksburg.He wore a black rubber raincoat and gauntlets, and carried a book of Napoleon’s maxims in his haversack, as he waited for the last of his 21,000 soldiers to spread through the woods in an attack formation over a mile wide.There were only a few hours of daylight left, and his men had been marching all day. But the officer had carefully maneuvered his regiments into position to launch one of the greatest assaults of the Civil War.As the minutes ticked by, he asked a subordinate: “Are you ready?” Yes, came the reply....

  • Originally published 04/30/2013

    William M. Maury, historian at Census Bureau, dies at 73

    William M. Maury, 73, chief historian at the U.S. Census Bureau, died April 12 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.He had complications from lung disease, said his son, Brooke Maury.Dr. Maury, a Kensington resident, joined the Census Bureau as chief historian in 2002. He was previously a data analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration and a historian for the National Archives. Earlier in his career, he taught history at Catholic University and George Washington University....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Lonnie G. Bunch III: On MLK’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham City Jail’

    Bunch is the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture While we pause in 2013 to remember historic milestones – both fortunate and unfortunate – in the tumultuous fight for justice in America, some of those actions and messages of 50 years ago retain clear lessons for today. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  50 years ago this month, was a powerful call to action then, and gives us talking points for today’s heated social and political discussions. And I need to underscore talking because King gave us a document that was so respectful and, so totally without rancor, pointedly answering his critics who thought the peaceful actions against injustice in Birmingham were unwise.  Today’s leaders in the loud, omnipresent, electronic public square need a refresher in King’s approach.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Japan’s no-apology diplomacy

    Just one year after Emperor Meiji proclaimed the Japanese Empire in 1868, he ordered the construction of a majestic new Shinto shrine in Tokyo. The Yasukuni Shrine was to record the names of every man, woman and child who died in service of the new empire. And it was to be a place of  worship, part of a larger effort to make the empire something of a state religion. By the time Japan collapsed in defeat at the end of World War II, more than 2 million names had been added to the shrine.For more than 75 years, Yasukuni was a symbol of Japan’s imperial mission; both were officially sacred. The shrine was considered the final resting place of Japanese soldiers, colonists and others who served the imperial expansion that had plunged all of East Asia and eventually the United States into a costly and horrific war.

  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    Monticello historian's digitizing project

    Thomas Jefferson died 186 years ago. But J. Jefferson Looney still wants the nation’s third president to speak for himself.The Monticello historian has spent more than a quarter-century deciphering, annotating and publishing thousands of Jefferson’s letters precisely as they were written, including eccentric spellings (“knolege”), obscure capitalizations and musings on slavery, God and death.Looney’s work is part of an audacious, multimillion-dollar memorial to some of the nation’s most prominent Founding Fathers: an attempt to track down and publish an exhaustive collection of all of the significant correspondence and other documents written by -- and sent to -- George Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin....Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/04/14/2431291/historian-seeks-to-have-jefferson.html#storylink=cpy...

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Robert Elias: A Lost Hero of the Civil Rights Era

    Robert Elias is a professor of law and politics at the University of San Francisco. He is the author of the forthcoming book “At What Price Equality? The Heroic Court Battle and Mysterious Disappearance of Lloyd Gaines.” Lloyd Gaines had just become a civil rights pioneer. Denied admission to the University of Missouri’s Law School in 1935 because he was African American, Gaines sued, without much hope of winning in Jim Crow America. Yet after the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard his case in 1938, the justices ruled that unless Missouri created a black law school overnight, it would have to admit Gaines to the all-white law school. This was astonishing news for a black boy born dirt-poor in rural Mississippi who had watched racism follow his family’s migration north to St. Louis.In the spring of 1939 it appeared, remarkably, that Gaines would enter the Missouri Law School later that year as the first African American ever enrolled there. On the cold, rainy evening of March 19, Gaines told a housemate he was going to buy stamps. He went out . . . and was never seen again.

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    GM-potatoes criticized in Ireland

    Carlow, Ireland — Ewen Mullins is the face of modern Ireland: Young, cosmopolitan, highly educated, he is a plant scientist whose work on a genetically modified potato inherently looks to the future. But Mullins also must think back to one of Ireland’s darkest chapters, the Great Famine of the 1840s.“It’s always there,” he said. “It’s not something we forget or something we should be allowed to forget.”From his laboratory and greenhouse in a research farm outside Carlow, 42-year-old Mullins deals daily with a disease that not only afflicts his native land but haunts it: the potato blight, a pernicious rot caused by a fungus that still thrives in Ireland’s wet, cold climate....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: The Iraq War -- How Our Nation Lost Its Soul

    Former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (1998-2008), Thistlethwaite is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.The Iraq war was not a Just War. It has been a moral, fiscal and geopolitical disaster for the United States. Ten years after the attack on Iraq, it is critical to understand all that we have lost in engaging in this war. The true legacy of the Iraq war is a loss of our moral compass on engaging in war.The Iraq war has first of all been a moral disaster because we broke the rules of war by ignoring them or so completely “re-defining” them that they lost their meaning.Nothing so typifies this moral breakdown as much as the attempt to redefine torture as “enhanced interrogation,” and claim, despite the evidence of the horrible photos and videos of the systematic abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, for example, that such torture is not torture.

  • Originally published 03/04/2013

    Max Holland: Woodward Obama story "only the latest in a long list of [Woodward's] prevarications"

    The week's developments include a pope emeritus for the first time in six centuries, federal budget cuts seemingly designed by Sweeney Todd, and the visit by one of the NBA's all-time rebounders (Dennis Rodman) to the son of one of the world's greatest sportsmen (that would be North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, whose late father claimed to have shot five holes-in-one on his very first golf outing).And yet somehow, legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward thrust himself at the center of the news with his claim that he had been menaced by an unnamed White House official. That's serious stuff. Woodward has been getting under the skins of presidential administrations for four decades now....One close Woodward observer has little tolerance for this latest episode."Woodward was caught out in a lie when he represented Sperling's admonition as a threat," said Max Holland, author of Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat."But that misrepresentation is only the latest in a long list of prevarications that go all the way back to Watergate and the fabled Deep Throat. No other journalist would be allowed to get away with this kind of serial behavior."It's a self-inflicted wound. A great reporter Woodward may well still be. But his behavior has called into question his standing as a reliable narrator.

  • Originally published 02/12/2013

    Historic DC tree accidently cut down by Park Service

    ...The National Park Service said the contractor — a Lothian company called Greentree — was supposed to cut down a dead ash tree on the other side of the park. There was nothing wrong with the ginkgo....It was memorialized in 2006 as part of the Park Service’s Witness Tree Protection Program, an effort to encourage the public to relate to the history of the city through its trees. Historian Jonathan Pliska wrote that the ginkgo was probably planted in 1873, although it may have been there earlier and been incorporated into the design of the square, which honors Adm. David Glasgow Farragut, the naval hero best known for saying: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”The tree was 102 feet tall, with a crown spread of 79 feet and trunk circumference of 142 inches. That made it the largest ginkgo in Washington. Apparently it was a male, so it didn’t have that stinky fruit....