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Tuesday, July 31, 2012


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Great Moments in Olympic Swimming History

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Australia’s Dawn Fraser is considered the greatest female sprint swimmer ever. 

She won eight Olympic medals, with four gold and four silver medals at the Games of 1956, 1960 and 1964, including three successive golds in the 100 metres freestyle, a record for any Olympic swimming event (since equalled by Hungary’s Krisztina Egerszegi). She was denied the opportunity of adding to her medal total when she received a lengthy suspension following misbehavior at the 1964 Games. 

She set 27 individual and 12 relay world records. On 27 October 1962 in Melbourne, she recorded a time of 59.9 seconds for the 100 metre freestyle, which made her the first woman to swim the sprint distance in under one minute. She was wildly popular in Australia, where a daffodil, a rose, and an orchid were named after her, and the Elkington Park Baths in Sydney were later renamed the Dawn Fraser Pool. 

In 1988 Fraser was selected as Australia’s greatest female athlete. In that same year she was elected to the New South Wales Parliament where she represented the seat of Balmain until 1991.

Famous Olympic Swimming and Swimmer Moments

1896 - Alfred Hajos (Hungary) - First Swimming Gold

Alfréd Hajós, Hungary - the First Olympic Champion in swimmingPublic Domain
A boat dropped everyone into the water in the icy waters of the Mediterranean. The first swimmer to shore won. "My will to live completely overcame my desire to win" - Alfred Hajos.

1956, 1960, 1964 - Dawn Fraser (Australia) - 100 Free Gold Medal x 3

Dawn Fraser of Australia wins the 100m Freestyle Final at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.Allsport UK/Allsport/Getty Images
Dawn Fraser of Australia becomes the first swimmer to win gold in the same event for three consecutive Olympics.

1964 - Don Schollander (USA) - First 4-Gold Medal Swimmer

Don Schollander was the first swimmer to win 4 Gold Medals in a single Olympics. He won the 100 and 200 freestyle and was part of the winning 400 and 800 freestyle relays at the 1964 Olympic Games.

1968, 1972 - Roland Matthes (East Germany) Double Gold Medal Backstroke

Roland MatthesPublic Domain
Roland Matthes was undefeated in backstroke events from 1967 to 1974, including the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.

1972 - Mark Spitz (USA) - 7 Gold Medals in One Olympic Games

Mark Spitz swimming during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
Mark Spitz becomes the first person to win 7 gold medals in one Olympic games. 100 Free, 200 Free, 100 Fly, 200 Fly, 4x100 Free Relay, 4x200 Free Relay, and 4x100 Medley Relay.

1976 - USA Men - How many Golds?

David Wilkie of Great BritainTony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
Montreal, and a dominance that has never been seen. The USA men won 10 out of 11 individual gold medals (the one they did not win, the 200 breaststroke, was won by David Wilkie of Great Britain; David swam at the University of Miami). The USA men also took 10 silver medals (Wilkie was silver in the 100 Breast), 5 bronze medals, and gold in both relay events. That is 27 Medals (12-10-5). The next closest were Great Britain with three medals (1-1-1) and the Soviet Union. also with three (0-1-2).

1976 - USA Women - 4 x 100 Free Relay Gold

Shirley Babashoff, USA, 1976 Olympic Games.Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
The USA Women's team had high hopes for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, but seemed to come up short again and again, usually against swimmers from East Germany. In the 4 x 100 Free Relay, they said enough is enough and swam above their apparent abilities. In an awesome team performance, Kim Peyton, Jill Sterkel, Shirley Babashoff, and Wendy Boglioli took the gold.

1980 - Vladimir Salnikov (Russia) Breaks 15-minute 1500-meter Barrier

Vladimir Salnikov, USSR, GOld in the 1500m Freestyle 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, time of 14:58.27Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
1980, short some countries as it was a boycotted Olympic Games, was held in Russia. Swimmer Vladimir Salnikov (Russia) did not care, he swam to the best performance in the 1500-meter freestyle, becoming the first swimmer ever under 15 minutes (14:58.27).

1984 - First Tie in Olympic Swimming

Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer Tony Duffy/Getty Images
US Swimmers Nancy Hogshead and Carie Steinseifer registered the first tie in Olympic history in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1984 Olympics. Both swimmers touched the wall at 55.92.

1984 - Rowdy Gaines Comeback

Chris Cavanaugh, Matt Biondi, Michael Heath, And Rowdy Gaines, 4 x 100 Free RelayTony Duffy/Getty Images
Rowdy Gaines held 11 World Records, but he missed an opportunity to shine when the USA boycottted the 1980 Olympics. He made a comeback for the 1984 LA Games, and despite not being expected to be a major player, won three gold medals.

1988 - Kristin Otto (East Germany) - 6 Gold Medals

Kristin Otto, 1988 Seoul Olympics, Gold Medal, 50 FreeGetty Images
East Germany's Kristin Otto swam to 6 gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. She was the only women to win that many golds, and to win in three different strokes, butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle. It was later learned that she had been part of a systematic East German doping process.

1988, 1992, 1996 - Krisztina Egerszegi (Hungary) - 200 Back Gold Medal x 3

Krisztina Egerszegi, Hungary, gold medal, women's 200 backstroke 1996 Centennial Olympic GamesMike Hewitt/Allsport/Getty Images
Backstroker Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary becomes the second swimmer in Olympic history to win gold medals in the same event at three successive Olympic games in the 200 Backstroke.

2000 - Misty Hyman (USA) - 200 Fly Gold

Misty Hyman, USA,  gold medal 200M fly at the 2000 Sydney OlympicsDoug Pensinger/Getty Images
Butterfly swimmer Misty Hyman (USA) was not expected to win the gold at the Sydney games, but in a near-perfect swim she claimed gold over the local favorite, to the disbelief of the quieted Aussie crowd.

2008 - Jason Lezak Anchors the Men's 4x100 Free Relay to Gold

Jason Lezak Nick Laham/Getty Images
Jason Lezak anchored the US Men's relay to a Gold medal, starting over 1/2 second behind the French team and their swimmer, the (then) world record holder in the 100 free. With 50 meters to go, Lezak was over 3/4 of a second behind. With 25 meters to go, Lezak seemed to have a burst of energy while the French swimmer started to fade, and at the wall the US swimmer out-touched Alain Bernard by .08 seconds. It was one of the greatest anchor legs in history; Lezak split a 46.06.

2008 - Michael Phelps (USA) - Most Gold Medals

Michael PhelpsNick Laham/Getty Images
By the end of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps won more Olympic Gold medals than any other Olympic athlete (16 total – 14 Gold, 0 Silver, 2 Bronze). And he has the most medals in a single Olympics, 8 in 2004 and 2008 - and in '08, all 8 were gold ones.

2008, 2000, 1992, 1988, 1984 - Dara Torres (USA) 5x Olympian

Dara TorresJamie Squire/Getty Images
Dara Torres made 5 USA Olympic Teams, medaling in all of them. Dara is tied for second on the list of US atheltes with the most Olympic medals with 12 (4G - 4S - 4B).

Phelps and Latynina

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LONDON – In what may be her final hour before losing her title as most-decorated Olympian of all time to Michael Phelps, Russian gymnastics legend Larissa Latynina was still holding on to her claim as the greatest the Games have ever seen.

As she left the stands at gymnastics venue the North Greenwich Arena to head to the aquatics center and watch Phelps’ two potentially historic races, the 18-time medalist spoke her mind.

"Do I think I am still the greatest Olympian?" she said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports translated by a Russian gymnastics federation official. "Why yes, but that is my opinion.
"Why do I think this? Well, I did not only compete in three Olympic Games and won many medals, but the Soviet Union team had very great success when I was the coach."

Success is an understatement. Latynina won nine golds and 18 total medals in her Olympic career, one that took her to Melbourne in 1956, Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964. When she was coach during the 1970s, the Soviet Union claimed another 10 golds.

Phelps and Latynina met at a promotional event in the United States earlier this year and had a short conversation, after which the gymnast presented the American swimmer with one of her medals as a token of respect.

Larissa Latynina

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Larissa Latynina dominated female gymnastics, collecting a record 18 Olympic medals between 1956 and 1964 
Debut success
Aged just 21, Latynina made her Olympic debut at the 1956 Melbourne Games. She fought off fierce competition to win gold in the all-around event. In the apparatus finals she finished first in the vault, second on the uneven bars and in the floor exercise, and fourth on the balance beam. She also led the Soviet Union to victory in the team event.
Medal rush
At the 1960 Rome Games, Latynina defended her all-around title and won another gold medal in the team event. She also earned a second gold medal in the floor exercise, picked up silver medals on the uneven bars and the balance beam, and a bronze medal in the vault. Yet despite winning seven Olympic gold medals, her hunger for success was not diminished.
Sustained success
Four years later, Latynina won her third Olympic team gold medal and a silver medal in the all-around event. In the apparatus finals she won a silver medal in the vault, bronze medals on the uneven bars and the balance beam, and won the floor exercise for the third straight time.
Olympic records
Latynina’s incredible achievements make her the holder of several Olympic records. She is the only athlete in any sport to have won eighteen Olympic medals. She is one of only four athletes to have won nine gold medals and one of only three women to have won the same event at Summer Games three times.

Why U.S. economic policy is paralyzed

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The greatest blunder in American domestic policy since World War II occurred a half-century ago and helps explain today’s policy paralysis. The history — largely unrecognized — is worth recalling.

Until the 1960s, Americans generally believed in low inflation and balanced budgets. President John Kennedy shared the consensus but was persuaded to change his mind. His economic advisers argued that, through deficit spending and modest increases in inflation, government could raise economic growth, lower unemployment and smooth business cycles. 

None of this proved true; all of it led to grief.

Chapter One involved inflation. Increases weren’t modest; by 1980, they approached 14 percent annually. Business cycles weren’t smoothed; from 1969 to 1981, there were four recessions. Unemployment, on average, didn’t fall; the peak monthly rate — reached in the savage 1980-82 slump — was 10.8 percent. Americans lost faith in government and the future, much as now. Confidence revived only after high inflation was quashed in the early 1980s.  

The balanced-budget tradition was never completely rigid. During wars and deep economic downturns, budgets were allowed to sink into deficit. But in normal times, balance was the standard. Dueling political traditions led to this result. Thomas Jefferson thought balanced budgets would keep government small; Alexander Hamilton believed that servicing past debts would preserve the nation’s credit — the ability to borrow — when credit was needed.

Kennedy’s economists, fashioning themselves as heirs to John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), shattered this consensus. They contended that deficits weren’t immoral and could be manipulated to boost economic performance. This destroyed the intellectual and moral props for balanced budgets.

Norms changed. Political leaders and average Americans noticed that continuous deficits did no great economic harm. Neither, of course, did they do much good, but their charm was “something for nothing.” Politicians could spend more and tax less. This appealed to both parties and the public. Since 1961, the federal government has balanced its budget only five times. Arguably, only one of these (1969) resulted from policy; the other four (1998-2001) stemmed heavily from the surging tax revenue of the then-economic boom.  

America now faces the consequences of all these permissive deficits. The recovery is lackluster. Economic growth creeps along at 2 percent annually or less. Unemployment has exceeded 8 percent for 41 months. But economic policy seems ineffective. Since late 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low. And budget deficits are enormous, about $5.5 trillion since 2008.

Only one group of economists has a coherent response: Keynesians. Led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, they argue that the deficits haven’t been large enough. If consumers and businesses aren’t spending enough to revive the economy, government must substitute. Its support would be temporary until more jobs and profits strengthened private spending. Sounds convincing.

But it collides with the 1960s’ legacy. Running routine deficits meant that the federal debt (all past annual deficits) was already high before the crisis: 41 percent of the economy, or gross domestic product (GDP), in 2008. Huge deficits have now raised that to about 70 percent of GDP; Krugman-like proposals would increase debt further. It would approach the 90 percent of GDP that economists Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard and Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute have found is associated with higher interest rates and slower economic growth. 

Since 1800, major countries have experienced 26 episodes when government debt has reached 90 percent of GDP for at least five years, they find in a study done with Vincent Reinhart of Morgan Stanley. Periods of slower economic growth typically lasted two decades. 

Now, imagine that the country had adhered to its balanced-budget tradition before the crisis. Some deficits would have remained, but the cumulative debt would have been much lower: plausibly between 10 percent and 20 percent of GDP. There would have been more room for expansion. Balancing the budget might even have forced Congress to face the costs of an aging society.

The blunder of the Sixties has had a long afterlife. Economic policy is trapped between weak demand and the fears of too much debt. Yesterday’s Keynesians undercut today’s Keynesians. “In the long run we are all dead,” Keynes said. But others are alive — and suffer from bad decisions made decades ago.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

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Nathan Bedford Forrest: Early Life

Nathan Bedford Forrest was born in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, on July 13, 1821. He grew up poor and received almost no formal education before going into business with his uncle Jonathan Forrest in Hernando, Mississippi. In 1845 his uncle was killed in a street fight started over a business dispute, and Forrest responded by killing two of the murderers using a pistol and bowie knife. Forrest married Mary Ann Montgomery, a member of a prominent Tennessee family, that same year. The couple would later have two children.

Forrest eventually found success as a planter and owner of a stagecoach company. In 1852 he moved his young family to Memphis, Tennessee, where he amassed a small fortune working as a slave trader. His business continued to grow throughout the 1850s, and in 1858 he was elected a Memphis alderman. By 1860 Forrest owned two cotton plantations and had established himself among the wealthiest men in Tennessee.

Nathan Bedford Forrest: Civil War Service

Following the start of the Civil War (1861-65), Forrest enlisted as a private in the Tennessee Mounted Rifles and helped equip the unit using his own money. He soon earned a promotion to lieutenant colonel and was placed in charge of raising and training his own battalion of 650 mounted troopers. Forrest would win his first engagement later that year, when he led a surprise attack on a complement of 500 Union troops near Sacramento, Kentucky.

Forrest was next involved in heavy fighting at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in February 1862. Despite being cornered by Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant, Forrest refused to surrender along with General Simon Bolivar Buckner and the fort’s 12,000 other Confederates. Shortly before Grant claimed the fort, Forrest led roughly 700 cavalry past the Union siege lines and escaped to Nashville, where he coordinated evacuation efforts. Forrest was heavily engaged at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 and commanded rearguard actions during the Confederate retreat into Mississippi. Already known for his daring, Forrest reportedly led a cavalry charge against Union skirmishers and singlehandedly engaged several troops despite sustaining a gunshot wound to the back. His legend would continue to grow after the battle, when he published a recruiting notice in a Memphis newspaper that included the line “Come on boys, if you want a heap of fun and to kill some Yankees.”

Forrest’s injury would keep him away from the field until June 1862. A month later he led a raiding mission into Tennessee, where he captured a Union garrison at Murfreesboro. Promoted to brigadier general, Forrest next participated in cavalry operations near the vital Mississippi River hub at Vicksburg, Tennessee, which was under siege by Ulysses S. Grant. Throughout late 1862 and early 1863, Forrest’s cavalry relentlessly harassed Grant’s forces, frequently cutting off communication lines and raiding stores of supplies as far north as Kentucky. Careful to never engage the superior Union numbers in outright combat, Forrest instead relied on guerilla tactics designed to frustrate and exhaust his pursuers.

Forrest was engaged throughout early 1863 in operations near Fort Donelson and at the Battle of Thompson’s Station. In May 1863 he successfully cornered Union cavalry commanded by Colonel Abel Streight near Cedar Bluff, Alabama. Recognizing that Streight held a substantially larger force, Forrest led his troopers around the same hilltop multiple times in order to give the appearance of larger numbers. He then bluffed Streight into surrendering his 1,500 Union cavalry before revealing he had less than a third as many men.

Forrest was prominent during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, in which part of his cavalry dismounted and fought alongside infantrymen on the Confederate right flank. He was then instrumental in pursuing the retreating Union army. After the battle Forrest openly criticized General Braxton Bragg, who he believed had failed to capitalize on the Confederate victory. Frustrated with his commanding officer, Forrest requested a new assignment, and in October 1863 he was placed in independent command in Mississippi. Promoted to major general in December 1863, Forrest fought a series of small engagements in Tennessee before defeating a much larger Union force at the Battle of Okolona in February 1864.

Forrest’s most controversial action as a field commander would come in April 1864 at the Battle of Fort Pillow in Tennessee. After capturing the federal garrison by force, Forrest’s men reportedly killed over 200 Union soldiers, many of them black troops who had formerly been slaves. While Forrest and his men would claim the fort’s occupants had resisted, survivors of what became known as the “Fort Pillow Massacre” argued that Forrest’s men had ignored their surrender and murdered dozens of unarmed troops. The Joint Committee on the Conduct of War would later investigate the incident and agree that Forrest’s men had committed an unjust slaughter.

His reputation stained by the events at Fort Pillow, Forrest went on to achieve a stunning victory in June 1864 at the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads. After leading nearly 8,500 Union troops on an exhausting chase, Forrest counterattacked with 3,500 men near Baldwyn, Mississippi, destroying the Union force and claiming valuable supplies and arms. Forrest then suffered a defeat at the hands of William T. Sherman’s forces at the Battle of Tupelo in July 1864. He would respond with raids against Memphis and Johnsonville, Tennessee, before linking up with forces under General John Bell Hood in November 1864. Forrest participated in the Confederate defeat at the Second Battle of Franklin before suffering another loss at the Third Battle of Murfreesboro in December. After Hood’s beleaguered Army of Tennessee was routed at the Battle of Nashville, Forrest led rearguard operations during the retreat into Mississippi.

Promoted to lieutenant general in February 1865, Forrest would oppose Union General James H. Wilson during his raid into the Deep South but was defeated at the Battle of Selma in April 1865. He then disbanded his weakened force in May 1865 following the surrender of the Confederacy’s major armies.

Nathan Bedford Forrest: Later Life

Forrest returned to Tennessee after the Civil War and entered private business. In the years following the conflict he would work as a lumber merchant, planter and president of the Selma, Marion and Memphis Railroad.

In the late 1860s Forrest began an association with the newly formed Ku Klux Klan, a secret society that terrorized blacks and opposed Reconstruction efforts. Forrest is believed to have served as the Klan’s first grand wizard upon its formation in 1866, though he would later deny any association with the group when called before the Joint Congressional Committee in 1871. Forrest’s financial situation later became desperate following the failure of his railroad business in 1874. Forced to sell off many of his assets, he spent his later years overseeing a prison labor camp near Memphis. He died in 1877 at the age of 56.

The Ku Klux Klan

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Founding of the Ku Klux Klan

A group including many former Confederate veterans founded the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866. The first two words of the organization's name supposedly derived from the Greek word "kyklos," meaning circle. In the summer of 1867, local branches of the Klan met in a general organizing convention and established what they called an "Invisible Empire of the South." Leading Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest was chosen as the first leader, or "grand wizard," of the Klan; he presided over a hierarchy of grand dragons, grand titans and grand cyclopses.

The organization of the Ku Klux Klan coincided with the beginning of the second phase of post-Civil War Reconstruction, put into place by the more radical members of the Republican Party in Congress. After rejecting President Andrew Johnson's relatively lenient Reconstruction policies, in place from 1865 to 1866, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act over the presidential veto. Under its provisions, the South was divided into five military districts, and each state was required to approve the 14th Amendment, which granted "equal protection" of the Constitution to former slaves and enacted universal male suffrage.

Ku Klux Klan Violence in the South

From 1867 onward, African-American participation in public life in the South became one of the most radical aspects of Reconstruction, as blacks won election to southern state governments and even to the U.S. Congress. For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an underground campaign of violence against Republican leaders and voters (both black and white) in an effort to reverse the policies of Radical Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. They were joined in this struggle by similar organizations such as the Knights of the White Camelia (launched in Louisiana in 1867) and the White Brotherhood. At least 10 percent of the black legislators elected during the 1867-1868 constitutional conventions became victims of violence during Reconstruction, including seven who were killed. White Republicans (derided as "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags") and black institutions such as schools and churches—symbols of black autonomy—were also targets for Klan attacks.

By 1870, the Ku Klux Klan had branches in nearly every southern state. Even at its height, the Klan did not boast a well-organized structure or clear leadership. Local Klan members–often wearing masks and dressed in the organization's signature long white robes and hoods–usually carried out their attacks at night, acting on their own but in support of the common goals of defeating Radical Reconstruction and restoring white supremacy in the South. Klan activity flourished particularly in the regions of the South where blacks were a minority or a small majority of the population, and was relatively limited in others. Among the most notorious zones of Klan activity was South Carolina, where in January 1871 500 masked men attacked the Union county jail and lynched eight black prisoners.

The Ku Klux Klan and the End of Reconstruction

Though Democratic leaders would later attribute Ku Klux Klan violence to poorer southern whites, the organization's membership crossed class lines, from small farmers and laborers to planters, lawyers, merchants, physicians and ministers. In the regions where most Klan activity took place, local law enforcement officials either belonged to the Klan or declined to take action against it, and even those who arrested accused Klansmen found it difficult to find witnesses willing to testify against them. Other leading white citizens in the South declined to speak out against the group's actions, giving them tacit approval. After 1870, Republican state governments in the South turned to Congress for help, resulting in the passage of three Enforcement Acts, the strongest of which was the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

For the first time, the Ku Klux Klan Act designated certain crimes committed by individuals as federal offenses, including conspiracies to deprive citizens of the right to hold office, serve on juries and enjoy the equal protection of the law. The act authorized the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and arrest accused individuals without charge, and to send federal forces to suppress Klan violence. This expansion of federal authority–which Ulysses S. Grant promptly used in 1871 to crush Klan activity in South Carolina and other areas of the South–outraged Democrats and even alarmed many Republicans. From the early 1870s onward, white supremacy gradually reasserted its hold on the South as support for Reconstruction waned; by the end of 1876, the entire South was under Democratic control once again.

Revival of the Ku Klux Klan

In 1915, white Protestant nativists organized a revival of the Ku Klux Klan near Atlanta, Georgia, inspired by their romantic view of the Old South as well as Thomas Dixon's 1905 book "The Clansman" and D.W. Griffith's 1915 film "Birth of a Nation." This second generation of the Klan was not only anti-black but also took a stand against Roman Catholics, Jews, foreigners and organized labor. It was fueled by growing hostility to the surge in immigration that America experienced in the early 20th century along with fears of communist revolution akin to the Bolshevik triumph in Russia in 1917. The organization took as its symbol a burning cross and held rallies, parades and marches around the country. At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.

The Great Depression in the 1930s depleted the Klan's membership ranks, and the organization temporarily disbanded in 1944. The civil rights movement of the 1960s saw a surge of local Klan activity across the South, including the bombings, beatings and shootings of black and white activists. These actions, carried out in secret but apparently the work of local Klansmen, outraged the nation and helped win support for the civil rights cause. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson delivered a speech publicly condemning the Klan and announcing the arrest of four Klansmen in connection with the murder of a white female civil rights worker in Alabama. The cases of Klan-related violence became more isolated in the decades to come, though fragmented groups became aligned with neo-Nazi or other right-wing extremist organizations from the 1970s onward. In the early 1990s, the Klan was estimated to have between 6,000 and 10,000 active members, mostly in the Deep South.

Nikola Tesla

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Profile of Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was one of America's greatest inventors. He was a contemporary of Thomas Edison, a man who was his employer and later became his chief rival.

Nikola Tesla's Childhood and Education

Tesla was born on July 10, 1856, in Croatia. He was the fourth of five children born to a Serbian Orthodox priest. Tesla's mother was a homemaker who would often invent things that would help around the home and farm. He studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt in, the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague.

Nikola Tesla Life in America

Tesla arrived in the United States in 1884 with little money and an introduction letter to Thomas Edison. Through 1886-88 he began investigating some of his most notable inventions such as the initial brush less alternating current induction motor, practical applications for x rays, and the principles of his Tesla coil. On the 30th of July 1891 Tesla became a citizen of the United States. He was 35 years old. In the next few years Tesla set up two laboratories in New York.

Tesla and Edison in "The War of Currents"

Perhaps what Tesla is most known for is his battle with Thomas Edison in what was called "The War of Currents." Edison believed in Direct Current flow which was limited in its distance and voltage compared to Tesla's alternating current, which would increase voltage levels across greater distances than Edison could dream. In 1893 Tesla and his sponsor, Westinghouse, beat Edison in lighting up the Colombian Exposition in Chicago, giving Tesla a chance to show the public the advantages of AC electricity. Tesla became victor of "The War of Currents."
Tesla came to believe that a world system could be built that would transmit electricity without wires. The earth itself would be the conductor of electrical current. Current would be transmitted between two points. Electrical devices between these points could draw on the current from the earth and air.
On January 7, 1943, Tesla died at the age of 86 of coronary thrombosis. He had never been married. He spent his whole life inventing and discovering. After he died it was found out that Tesla had held over 700 patents.

Pancho Villa

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Profile of Pancho Villa

A few names inspire the lore of the Wild West like Pancho Villa. Villa was a guerilla fighter and a Mexican revolutionary leader, whose exploits became legend. Born on June 5, 1878 as Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula, Villa was the son of a field worker.

When he was 15 his father passed away, and a year later he would be a fugitive from justice after killing the owner of an estate on which he worked, protecting his younger sister. For the next 16 years he would adopt the moniker, Francisco Villa, going by the nickname, Pancho Villa.

Pancho Villa Becomes a Revolutionary

In 1910, Villa was convinced to join with Francisco Madero's revolutionary uprising against Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz. His knowledge of the land and the people of Northern Mexico proved very valuable to Madero's cause. Villa organized and commanded a division of soldiers and contributed to the eventual success of the revolution. In May of 1911, Villa married and retired from the army.
This retirement would be short-lived. A year later, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa gathered troops to defend new president, Madero. During this period, Villa had a falling out with General Victoriano Huerta. Villa was sentenced to death and sent to prison. Though eventually granted a stay of execution, he was not released from prison. Taking matters into his own hands, Villa escaped from prison and fled to the United States.

Villa Becomes Governor of Chihuahua

A year later, in 1913, when President Madero was assassinated by General Huerta, Villa once again organized an army of several thousand men and was part of a rebellion against the new president. His victories on the field were such that he became the governor of the new state of Chihuahua, and the uprising as a whole succeeded in removing Huerta from power.
Peace was short lived, in 1914 Villa fell out with Venustiano Carranza, his former ally and leader of this latest uprising. Villa had to flee Mexico. Unfortunately, the United States was supporting Carranza's government at that time.

Villa Becomes Wanted by the U.S.

Villa demonstrated he was a force to be reckoned with in the North. In January of 1916, he and his band killed 17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel. Two short months later, they killed another 17 in Columbus, New Mexico. Although President Wilson sent a party to bring him to justice, Villa was never caught.
In 1920, with the fall of Carranza's regime, Villa was granted a pardon, contingent on the secession of his revolutionary activity. Part of the agreement was that he would be given a ranch in Chihuahua. Three years after his retirement, Pancho Villa was assassinated.

Leni Riefenstahl

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Leni von Riefenstahl shooting for her film
Leni von Riefenstahl shooting for her film "Olympia" at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Getty Images /IOC Olympic Museum /Allsport

Leni Riefenstahl's career included work as a dancer, actress, film producer, director, and also a photographer, but the rest of Leni Riefenstahl's career was shadowed by her history as a documentary maker for Germany's Third Reich in the 1930s. 

Often called Hitler's propagandist, she disclaimed knowledge of or any responsibility for the Holocaust, saying in 1997 to the New York Times, "I did not know what was going on. I did not know anything about those things." 

Leni Riefenstahl was born in Berlin in 1902. Her father, in the plumbing business, opposed her goal to train as a dancer, but she defiantly pursued this education at Berlin's Kunstakademie where she studied Russian ballet and, under Mary Wigman, modern dance. 

Leni Riefenstahl appeared on stage in many European cities as a dancer in the years 1923 through 1926. She was impressed with the work of film-maker Arnold Fanck, whose "mountain" films presented images of almost mythical struggle of humans against the strength of nature. She talked Fanck into giving her a role in one of his mountain films, playing the part of a dancer. Then she went on to star in five more of Fanck's films. 

By 1931, she'd formed her own production company, Leni Riefenstahl-Produktion. In 1932 she produced, directed and starred in Das blaue Licht ("The Blue Light"). This film was her attempt to work within the mountain film genre, but with a woman as the central characer and a more romantic presentation. Already, she showed her skill in editing and in the technical experimentation that was a hallmark of her work later in the decade. 

Leni Riefenstahl later told the story of happening upon a Nazi party rally where Adolf Hitler was speaking. His effect on her, as she reported it, was electrifying. She contacted him, and soon he had asked her to make a film of a major Nazi rally. This film, produced in 1933 and titled Sieg des Glaubens ("Victory of the Faith"), was later destroyed, and in her later years Riefenstahl denied that it had much artistic value.

Leni Riefenstahl's next film was the one that made her reputation internationally: Triumph des Willens ("Triumph of the Will"). This documentary of the 1934 Nazi Party convention in Nuremburg (Nürnberg) has been termed the best propaganda film ever made. Leni Riefenstahl always denied that it was propaganda -- preferring the term documentary -- and she has also been called the "mother of the documentary." 

But despite her denials that the film was anything but a work of art, evidence is strong that she was more than a passive observer with a camera. In 1935, Leni Riefenstahl wrote a book (with a ghostwriter) about the making of this film: Hinter den Kulissen des Reichsparteitag-Films, available in German. There, she asserts that she helped plan the the rally -- so that in fact the rally was staged in part with the purpose in mind of making a more effective film. 

Critic Richard Meran Barsam says of the film that it "is cinematically dazzling and ideologically vicious." Hitler becomes, in the film, a larger-than-life figure, almost a divinity, and all other humans are portrayed such that their individuality is lost -- a glorification of the collective. 

David B. Hinton points out Leni Riefenstahl's use of the telephoto lens to pick up the genuine emotions on the faces she depicts. "The fanaticism evident on the faces was already there, it was not created for the film." Thus, he urges, we should not find Leni Riefenstahl the main culprit in the making of the film. 

The film is technically brilliant, especially in the editing, and the result is a documentary more aesthetic than literal. The film glorifies the German people -- especially those who "look Aryan" -- and practically deifies the leader, Hitler. It plays on patriotic and nationalistic emotions in its images, music, and structure. 

Having practically left out the German armed forces from "Triumph," she tried to compensate in 1935 with another film: Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmach (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces). 

For the 1936 Olympics, Hitler and the Nazis once again called on Leni Riefenstahl's skills. Giving her much latitude to try special techniques -- including digging pits next to the pole vaulting event, for instance, to get a better camera angle -- they expected a film that would once again show the glory of Germany. Leni Riefenstahl insisted on and got an agreement to give her much freedom in making the film; as an example of how she exercised the freedom, she was able to resist Goebbel's advice to diminish the emphasis on the African American athlete, Jesse Owens. She managed to give Owens a considerable amount of screen time though his strong presence was not exactly in line with the orthodox pro-Aryan Nazi position. 

The resulting two-part film, Olympische Spiele ("Olympia"), has also won both acclaim for its technical and artistic merit, and criticism for its "Nazi aesthetic." Some claim that the film was financed by the Nazis, but Leni Riefenstahl denied this connection. 

Leni Riefenstahl started and stopped more films during the war, but didn't complete any nor did she accept any more assignments for documentaries. She filmed Tiefland ("Lowlands"), a return to the romantic mountain film style, before World War II ended, but she was unable to complete the editing and other post-production work. She did some planning of a film on Penthisilea, Amazon queen, but never carried the plans through. 

In 1944, she married Peter Jakob. They were divorced in 1946. 

After the war, she was imprisoned for a time for her pro-Nazi contributions. In 1948, a German court found that she had not been actively a Nazi. That same year, the International Olympic Committee awarded Leni Riefenstahl a gold medal and diploma for "Olympia." 

In 1952, another German court officially cleared her of any collaboration that could be considered war crimes. In 1954, Tiefland was completed and released to modest success. 

In 1968, she began living with Horst Kettner, who was more than 40 years younger than her. He was still her companion at her death in 2003. 

Leni Riefenstahl turned from film to photography. In 1972, the London Times had Leni Riefenstahl photograph the Munich Olympics. But it was in her work in Africa that she achieved new fame. 

In the Nuba people of southern Sudan, Leni Riefenstahl found opportunities to explore visually the beauty of the human body. Her book, Die Nuba, of these photographs was published in 1973. Ethnographers and others criticized these photos of naked men and women, many with faces painted in abstract patterns and some depicted fighting. In these photos as in her films, people are depicted more as abstractions than as unique persons. The book has remained somewhat popular as a paean to the human form, though some would call it quintessential fascistic imagery. In 1976 she followed this book with another, The People of Kan.
In 1973, interviews with Leni Riefenstahl were included in a CBS television documentary about her life and work. In 1993, the English translation of her autobiography and a filmed documentary which included extensive interviews with Leni Riefenstahl both included her continuing claim that her films were never political. Criticized by some as too easy on her and by others including Riefenstahl as too critical, the documentary by Ray Muller asks the simplistic question, "A feminist pioneer, or a woman of evil?" 

Perhaps tired of the criticism of her human images as representing, still, a "fascist aesthetic," Leni Riefenstahl in her 70s learned to scuba dive, and turned to photographing underwater nature scenes. These, too, were published, as was a documentary film with footage drawn from 25 years of underwater work which was shown on a French-German art channel in 2002. 

Leni Riefenstahl was back in the news in 2002 -- not only for her 100th birthday. She was sued by Roma and Sinti ("gypsy") advocates on behalf of extras who had worked on Tiefland. They alleged that she had hired these extras knowing that they were taken from work camps to work on the film, locked up at night during filming to prevent their escape, and returned to concentration camps and likely death at the end of filming in 1941. Leni Riefenstahl first claimed that she had seen "all" of the extras alive after the war ("Nothing happened to any of them."), but then withdrew that claim and issued another statement deploring the treatment of the "gypsies" by the Nazis, but disclaiming personal knowledge of or responsibility for what happened to the extras. The lawsuit charged her with Holocaust denial, a crime in Germany. 

Since at least 2000, Jodie Foster has been working towards producing a film about Leni Riefenstahl. 

Leni Riefenstahl continued to insist -- to her last interview -- that art and politics are separate and that what she did was in the world of art.

The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

The IOC had awarded the Games to Berlin in 1931 with no idea that Adolf Hitler would take power in Germany two years later. By 1936, the Nazis had control of Germany and had begun to implement racist policies. There was international debate on whether the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany should be boycotted. The United States was extremely close to boycotting but at the last minute decided to accept the invitation to attend. 

The Nazis saw the event as a way to promote their ideology. They built four grandiose stadiums, swimming pools, an outdoor theater, a polo field, and an Olympic Village that had 150 cottages for the male athletes. Throughout the Games, the Olympic complex was covered in Nazi banners. Leni Riefenstahl, a famous Nazi propaganda filmaker, filmed these Olympic Games and made them into her movie Olympia

These Games were the first to be televised and the first to use telex transmissions of Games results. Also debuting at these Olympics was the torch relay. 

Jesse Owens, a black athlete from the United States, was the star of the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens, the "Tan Cyclone," brought home four gold medals: the 100-meter dash, the long jump (made an Olympic record), the 200-meter sprint around a turn (made a world record), and part of the team for the 400-meter relay. 

Approximately 4,000 athletes participated, representing 49 countries.

History of the Olympic Games

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception 

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games according to written records were held in 776 BCE - it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already. 

At that Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus (a cook from Elis), won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade - a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards). This made Coroebus the very first Olympic champion in history. 

The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

Pierre de Coubertin Proposes New Olympic Games

Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin inspired a revival. Coubertin is now known as le Rénovateur. Coubertin was a French aristocrat born on January 1, 1863. He was only seven years old when France was overrun by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Some believe that Coubertin attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers' lack of vigor. After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person. 

Coubertin's attempt to get France interested in sports was not met with enthusiasm. Still, he persisted. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games. At a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris on November 25, 1892, Coubertin stated,
Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise, upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.
His speech did not inspire action.

The Modern Olympic Games Are Founded

Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent one to do so. Two years later, Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium decorated with neoclassical murals and similar points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. This time, he aroused interest. 

The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC; Comité Internationale Olympique) and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen as the location for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.

Olympic Cities!

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

A complete listing of all Olympic Game cities of the modern Olympics in 1896 through scheduled games in 2020.

Summer Olympic Games Sites

1896 - Athens, Greece
1900 - Paris, France
1904 - St. Louis, United States
1908 - London, United Kingdom
1912 - Stockholm, Sweden
1916 - Scheduled for Berlin, Germany*
1920 - Antwerp, Belgium
1924 - Paris, France
1928 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
1932 - Los Angeles, United States
1936 - Berlin, Germany
1940 - Scheduled for Tokyo, Japan*
1944 - Scheduled for London, United Kingdom* 1948 - London, United Kingdom
1952 - Helsinki, Finland
1956 - Melbourne, Australia
1960 - Rome, Italy
1964 - Tokyo, Japan
1968 - Mexico City, Mexico
1972 - Munich, West Germany (now Germany)
1976 - Montreal, Canada
1980 - Moscow, U.S.S.R. (now Russia)
1984 - Los Angeles, United States
1988 - Seoul, South Korea
1992 - Barcelona, Spain
1996 - Atlanta, United States
2000 - Sydney, Australia
2004 - Athens, Greece
2008 - Beijing, China
2012 - London, United Kingdom
2016 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2020 - Candidate host cities: Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid (host city to be selected September 2013)

Winter Olympic Games Sites

1924 - Chamonix, France
1928 - St. Moritz, Switzerland
1932 - Lake Placid, N.Y., United States
1936 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
1940 - Scheduled for Sapporo, Japan*
1944 - Scheduled for Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy*
1948 - St. Moritz, Switzerland
1952 - Oslo, Norway
1956 - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
1960 - Squaw Valley, California, United States
1964 - Innsbruck, Austria
1968 - Grenoble, France
1972 - Sapporo, Japan
1976 - Innsbruck, Austria
1980 - Lake Placid, New York, United States
1984 - Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
1988 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1992 - Albertville, France**
1994 - Lillehammer, Norway**
1998 - Nagano, Japan
2002 - Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
2006 - Torino (Turin), Italy
2010 - Vancouver, Canada
2014 - Sochi, Russia
2018 - Pyeongchang, South Korea

* During World War I and II, Summer Olympic Games were not held in 1916, 1940, and 1944. 

* During World War II, Winter Olympic Games were not held in 1940 and 1944.

** The 1992 and 1994 Winter Games are two years apart due to the transition of the Winter Games to alternating even-numbered years with regard to the Summer Games.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History

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5. Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) in “Carlito’s Way” (1993)

sean penn dave kleinfeld The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History
Sean Penn is great, but he crushed it as Kleinfeld in “Carlito’s Way.” Kleinfeld deserves to make the list for pulling off that amazing Jew-fro/three piece suit combo.

On one hand, his character is an over the top cocaine snorting, illicit sex having, drug lord defending 1970’s caricature and also a strong criminal attorney, vigorous advocate and good friend to Al Pacino’s Carlito Brigante. At least he is at the beginning of the film. Kleinfeld makes the quintessential attorney error. He blurs the line between being the principal and being the counselor. He represents crooks and thinks he can become one. The Shakespearean tragedy fueled by Klienfeld’s greed is my favorite part of the film.

“Dave, you not a lawyer no more, you a gangster now. On the other side. A whole new ball game. You can’t learn about it in school, and you can’t have a late start.”
 BAD ASS!!!!

4. Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) in “The Verdict” (1982)

paul newman verdict The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History
Lawyers know deep down that one day the accumulated toll of practicing law will turn them into jaded, burnt-out alcoholics. But will they look one tenth as pretty as Paul Newman does as a jaded, burnt-out, alcoholic lawyer.

Frank Galvin, once promising but down on his luck trial attorney turns to alcohol after a string of losses to drown his contempt for the system. He gets a chance to seek justice for the family of a young woman in a coma because of medical malpractice. He is David against Goliath of church, state and corporate power. In fighting for the interests of his comatose client he finds the strength to fight his demons.

“We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead… a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims… and we become victims. We become… we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law.”

3. Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr. (John Houseman) in “The Paper Chase” (1973)

houseman paper chase The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History
John Houseman won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of pompous, prickish and powerful Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr.

Kingsfield is the genius Harvard Contracts Professor who lives to terrorize first year law students. In his nimble hands, the Socratic Method is a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. No character in cinema embodies the frightening aspects of law school more than Houseman’s Professor Kingsfield. Even though John Houseman went on to play Ricky Schroder’s grand father on “Silver Spoons,” he can still scare the hell out of viewers.

“Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.”

2. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1962)

peck mockingbird 250x189 The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History
Atticus Finch. Needn't say anything else. Gregory Peck won the Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for his quiet, powerful portrayal in the screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel. Atticus is a lawyer, father and citizen. He represents the best that any of us could hope to be. He is selfless, fearless and unflinching. In the face of overwhelming prejudice and ignorance, he bravely defends a young black man falsely accused of raping a white woman inAlabamaduring the early 1930’s. In 2003, The AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century. Damn straight!

Atticus: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted – if I could hit ‘em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Jem: Why?
Atticus: Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncrib, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.

1. Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) in “The God Father” (1972) and “The God Father: Part II” (1974)

duvall tom hagen The 5 Greatest Lawyers in Movie History
This may be a controversial pick. In humble opinion, Duvall’s Tom Hagen most accurately and honestly captures the key element of being a lawyer - simultaneously being the ultimate insider while being a complete outsider.  He is consiglieri to Don Vito Corleone and then to Don Michael Corleone. He is privy to their deepest secrets, speaks fluent Italian and flawlessly executes the will of his Don, his client, his family.
He is brother to Sonny and Fredo and Michael, but only in part. He is Irish and was taken in by the Corleone family after he ran away from an abusive alcoholic father. Part of the family, but not. Powerful, but in constant danger of his power being unilaterally revoked which happens when Michael Corleone temporarily demotes Tom as unfit to be a “wartime consiglieri.”

The brilliance of Duvall’s performance is in the tension of serving as counsel to his family while quietly longing to be part of his family. There is a subtle and heartbreaking undercurrent through both films.  It is in the eyes.

“Thank you for the dinner and a very pleasant evening. Have your car take me to the airport. Mr Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news at once.”
Needless to say, it doesn’t turn out too well for Woltz.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

History of the EU

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

The precursor to the European Union was established after World War II in the late 1940s in an effort to unite the countries of Europe and end the period of wars between neighboring countries. These nations began to officially unite in 1949 with the Council of Europe. In 1950 the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community expanded the cooperation. The six nations involved in this initial treaty were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Today these countries are referred to as the "founding members."

During the 1950s, the Cold War, protests, and divisions between Eastern and Western Europe showed the need for further European unification. In order to do this, the Treaty of Rome was signed on March 25, 1957, thus creating the European Economic Community and allowing people and products to move throughout Europe. Throughout the decades additional countries joined the community.
In order to further unify Europe, the Single European Act was signed in 1987 with the aim of eventually creating a "single market" for trade. Europe was further unified in 1989 with the elimination of the boundary between Eastern and Western Europe - the Berlin Wall.

Great War and Modern Architectu​re—100 years On

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception 

What were the consequences of World War 1 for the development of
modern architecture after 1918? Considering that many modern
architects were soldiers in their 20s and early 30s, formative periods
in any individual’s life, how did active service in the trenches or
behind the frontline, travel to foreign lands, and the communal
experience of danger influence their thinking about their work,
profession, and society at large?

Psychologists like Kurt Lewin published as early as 1917 seminal texts
about how the soldier’s experience of the battlefield fundamentally
changed his perception of space. In literature, reflections on the
horrors and extraordinary experiences of the Great War resulted about
ten years later in masterpieces by writers and playwrights such as
Ernst Jünger, Erich Maria Remarque, and Edmund Blunden. Yet in the
realm of architecture little seems to be known beyond anecdotal tales
that Walter Gropius had been buried underneath rubble, and that Ludwig
Mies van der Rohe’s military career was modest due the lack of a
university education. Are there issues, buildings, methodologies, and
theoretical concerns in the development of modern architecture after
1918 that can be traced back to the Great War?

The session invites papers, ideally based on archival research, that
address both individual architects who had served in any of the
opposing armies, and questions concerning historiography and
methodological approaches regarding World War 1 and the emergence of
modern architecture in Europe.

Send 250 words abstract with a brief CV (1-2 pages), institutional
affiliation (if applicable) and email address by November, 12, 2012,
to Prof. Volker M. Welter, University of California at Santa Barbara,; and Prof. Iain Boyd Whyte, University of

8 Incredible Landmarks

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Quiriguá, Guatemala

Whether through natural disasters or mismanagement, tourism or deforestation, neglect or pollution, several of the world’s most precious landmarks are facing serious threats to their survival. We think of extinction as happening to animals and plants, yet places, too are endangered. 

There are hundreds of historic landmarks, irreplaceable ecosystems, ancient cities, and unique traditional villages across the globe that are in serious need of preservation.

At the link are some of these amazing places:

The Stream

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

One of the most important aspects of physical geography is the study of the world's natural environment and resources - one of which is water. Because this area is so important, geographers, geologists, and hydrologists alike use stream order to study and measure the size of the world's waterways.

The stream order hierarchy was officially proposed in 1952 by Arthur Newell Strahler, a geoscience professor at Columbia University in New York City, in his article “Hypsometric (Area Altitude) Analysis of Erosional Topology.” The article, which appeared in the Geological Society of America Bulletin outlined the order of streams as a way to define the size of perennial (a stream with water its bed continuously throughout the year) and recurring (a stream with water in its bed only part of the year) streams.

Tour de France ’53

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Enjoy Rare Photos of a Sport Spectacle

Remembering the recent 99th Tour de France, offers vintage (and some previously unpublished) photos from the 1953 version of the great contest.

These pictures were taken at a time when most of LIFE’s readers were likely only marginally aware that each summer people rode bikes for a few thousand miles on the mountain roads and through the sunflower fields of France and, occasionally, across the border into other European nations.

Read more:

century-old whiskey bottles

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Doing work on his 1850s house Bryan Fite uncovered a hidden stash of century-old whiskey bottles underneath the floorboards in his attic. At first, he thought they were tubes or oddly shaped insulated pipes.

On a closer look, Fite realized they were bottles of whiskey - 13 in total and each sealed with the whiskey still inside.

The whiskey was distilled between 1912 and 1913 and bottled in 1917. The stash included four bottles of Hellman's Celebrated Old Crow whiskey and a few bottles of Guckenheimer, a Pennsylvania rye whiskey, and W. H. McBrayer's Cedar Brook whiskey.

Fite thinks he knows who hid the bottles in the house, which dates to the 1850s. One former owner of the home was forced to give it up when he was sent to a sanitarium for alcoholism.

Now Fite has a possible windfall on his hands. While wine can turn to vinegar if it stays in the bottle too long, whiskey stored under the right conditions won't go bad. And his find comes at a fortuitous time.

Interest in whiskey as an investment has soared over the last five years since the United States made it legal for auction houses to sell spirits. Newly rich entrepreneurs in China and Russia with money to burn are snapping up high-end whiskey along with wine and fine art.