Archive for January 2011

England’s refuges for rare species – in pictures | Environment | guardian.co.uk   Leave a comment

Looking across Castle Park in central Bristol,...

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Bristol whitebeam Sorbus bristoliensis, Avon Gorge SSSI, Bristol/Somerset
This tree is found nowhere in the world except the Avon gorge, where around 300 grow. They have small orange fruit, toothed leaves and are noted for their forked trunks. Limestone soil and rocks, open, scrubby habitats and steep cliff faces provide ideal conditions

Posted January 30, 2011 by dmacc502 in environment

How Vast was the Crime – Yad Vashem   Leave a comment

Welcome Home for returning World War I soldier...

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“And so, within seven months, I lost my father, my brother, and my mother. I am the only one who survived. This is what the Germans did to us, and these are things that should never be forgotten. On the other hand, we had our revenge: the survivors were able to raise magnificent families – among them myself. This is the revenge and the consolation.”

Zvi Kopolovich
The Holocaust was the murder by Nazi Germany of six million Jews. While the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in 1933, the mass murder was committed during World War II. It took the Germans and their accomplices four and a half years to murder six million Jews. They were at their most efficient from April to November 1942 – 250 days in which they murdered some two and a half million Jews. They never showed any restraint, they slowed down only when they began to run out of Jews to kill, and they only stopped when the Allies defeated them.

There was no escape. The murderers were not content with destroying the communities; they also traced each hidden Jew and hunted down each fugitive. The crime of being a Jew was so great, that every single one had to be put to death – the men, the women, the children; the committed, the disinterested, the apostates; the healthy and creative, the sickly and the lazy – all were meant to suffer and die, with no reprieve, no hope, no possible amnesty, nor chance for alleviation.

Most of the Jews of Europe were dead by 1945. A civilization that had flourished for almost 2,000 years was no more. The survivors – one from a town, two from a host – dazed, emaciated, bereaved beyond measure, gathered the remnants of their vitality and the remaining sparks of their humanity, and rebuilt. They never meted out justice to their tormentors – for what justice could ever be achieved after such a crime? Rather, they turned to rebuilding: new families forever under the shadow of those absent; new life stories, forever warped by the wounds; new communities, forever haunted by the loss.

Posted January 28, 2011 by dmacc502 in History, Holocaust, Uncategorized

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Scott of the Antarctic: Hero or Failure? : Discovery News   Leave a comment

Robert Falcon Scott
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Scott of the Antarctic: Hero or Failure? : Discovery News.Antarctica  — A wood-framed hut perched on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf has remained a time capsule of sorts for the past century.

 

Its contents are testimony to the “Race to the South Pole” one hundred years ago this month between British naval officer Robert F. Scott (photographed here in 1900) and Norwegian Roald Amundsen. The race led to glory and death for Scott, victory (and near obscurity) for Amundsen.

 

But if Scott lost that incredible race, how did he become the hero and Amundsen a footnote to history?

 

“People are inspired by what he did even though he failed to get back from the South Pole,

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Houseplants Clean Indoor Air Pollution Home Top Plants   Leave a comment

The NASA studies on indoor pollution done in 1989 recommends 15 to 18 plants in 6 to 8-inch- diameter containers to clean the air in an average 1,800 square foot house. That’s roughly one plant per 100 square feet of floor space.

Most of the plants that remove pollutants, scientists found, come from tropical forests where they only get light filtered through the branches of taller trees. Their leaf composition lets them photosynthesize and move air efficiently in low light conditions of the average home.

Soil and roots also remove air-borne pollution. Bacteria and fungi in soil use pollutants as a food source to feed plant roots. If you remove lower leaves on plants to expose as much soil as possible, even more toxins are absorbed to feed plants. Don’t use the picked leaves to make a salad or compost them! Dispose of the leaves safely.

Common houseplants are the most efficient, NASA found. Some of my favorites like sansevieria, Lady palm and heartleaf philodendron are on the space agency’s top plants list. My hanging basket of philodendron crawls and snakes all over the windows, to the ceiling, in the sunroom. It verges on being a weed, but a weed that does an excellent job in keeping that room fresh.

Take a look at NASA Top 15 Plant List below. Add a few to your collection or buy a dozen to get started, knowing you are cleaning house sustainably. How green is that?

English ivy

Spider plant

Spathiphyllum (Peace lily)

Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen)

Bamboo, Lady or Reed palms

Sansevieria (Snake plant)

Heartleaf philodendron

Selloum or tree philodendron

Elephant ear philodendron

Golden pothos

Dracaena marginata (red-edged)

Cornstalk dracaena (also called Magic bamboo)

‘Janet Craig’ dracaena

Dracaena ‘Warneckii’

Ficus Benjamin (weeping fig)

via Houseplants Clean Indoor Air Pollution Home Top Plants.

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Posted January 27, 2011 by dmacc502 in environment, gardening

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Nazi plunder – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia   Leave a comment

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Raphael‘s Portrait of a Young Man was looted by the Germans from the Czartoryski Museum in 1939. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

While the Nazis were in power, they plundered cultural property from every territory they occupied. This was conducted in a systematic manner with organizations specifically created to determine which public and private collections were most valuable to the Nazi Regime. Some of the objects were earmarked for Hitler’s never realized Führermuseum, some objects went to other high ranking officials such as Hermann Göring, while other objects were traded to fund Nazi activities.

In 1940, an organization known as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die Besetzten Gebiete (The Reichsleiter Rosenberg Institute for the Occupied Territories), or ERR, was formed, headed for Alfred Rosenberg by Gerhard Utikal. The first operating unit, the western branch for France, Belgium and the Netherlands, called the Dienststelle Westen, was located in Paris. The chief of this Dienststelle was Kurt von Behr. Its original purpose was to collect Jewish andFreemasonic books and documents, either for destruction, or for removal to Germany for further “study”. However, late in 1940, Hermann Göring, who in fact controlled the ERR, issued an order that effectively changed the mission of the ERR, mandating it to seize “Jewish” art collections and other objects. The war loot had to be collected in a central place in Paris, the Museum Jeu de Paume. At this collection point worked art historians and other personnel who inventoried the loot before sending it to Germany. Göring also commanded that the loot would first be divided between Hitler and himself. For this reason, from the end of 1940 to the end of 1942 he traveled twenty times to Paris. In the Museum Jeu de Paume, art dealer Bruno Lohse staged 20 expositions of the newly looted art objects, especially for Göring, from which Göring selected at least 594 pieces for his own collection.[1] Göring made Lohse his liaison-officer and installed him in the ERR in March 1941 as the deputy leader of this unit. Items which Hitler and Göring did not want were made available to other Nazi leaders. Under Rosenberg and Göring’s leadership, the ERR seized 21,903 art objects from German-occupied countries.[2] Other Nazi looting organizations included the Dienststelle Mühlmann, which Göring also controlled and operated primarily in the Netherlands, Belgium, and a Sonderkommando Kuensberg connected to the minister of foreign affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop, which operated first in France, then in Russia and North Africa.

Hitler later ordered that all confiscated works of art were to be made directly available to him. Art collections from prominent Jewish families, including the Rothschilds, the Rosenbergs and the Goudstikkers and the Schloss Family were targeted because of their significant value. By the end of the war, the Third Reich amassed hundreds of thousands of cultural objects.

In Western Europe, with the advancing German troops, were elements of the ‘von Ribbentrop Battalion’, named after Joachim von Ribbentrop. These men were responsible for entering private and institutional libraries in the occupied countries and removing any materials of interest to the Germans, especially items of scientific, technical or other informational value.[3]

via Nazi plunder – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Posted January 26, 2011 by dmacc502 in History

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Was Chopin really epileptic? Or just in the groove? – Telegraph Blogs   Leave a comment

Frederic Chopin

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Hot news today, of sorts: a team of Spanish medial researchers think that Chopin may have been an epileptic. And perhaps he was. His early death at 39 has never been explained, and that he had serious health problems is obvious. Maybe, along with tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis, epilepsy is a contender.But without claiming the slightest medical expertise here, I’m not convinced by the medics’ argument that his recorded instances of apparent hallucination are proof of epileptic seizure.

via Was Chopin really epileptic? Or just in the groove? – Telegraph Blogs.

Posted January 25, 2011 by dmacc502 in entertainment, History, music

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Big Garden Birdwatch: Tweet and be counted – Telegraph   Leave a comment

Blue Tit, (Cyanistes caeruleus) It's an image ...

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Blue tit. This is the second winter in succession with a serious cold snap. Such extreme conditions have had a major effect on the populations of many of our birds, and the Birdwatch survey will begin to tell us which species have been left standing and how many there are.
It might sound peculiar, given all the cold weather, but the chances of seeing an unusual species in your garden over the next few weeks are high.

Posted January 21, 2011 by dmacc502 in Uncategorized

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Irish Famine   Leave a comment

An 1849 depiction of Bridget O'Donnell and her...

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Irish Ship Disembarking from Ireland for America

During the famine years some two million Irish left Ireland and those were only the ones who were able to scrape together the passage fare. Many remaining would have to wait until after the famine to leave. One quarter of the pre-famine population would leave Ireland in the famine years alone. Another quarter of the population would die in Ireland.
Most of the Irish emigrants went to the Northeast. All of our ancestors went to New York which received almost 200,000 Irish immigrants by 1860. Poor, uneducated, rural,most of the Irish were employed in the labor pool.
In the famine years, most of the immigration was in family units, though some males still preceded their families as was the case with John Cassidy who arrived in New York City in 1846 on the SS Stephen Whitney. His family, wife Margaret and children: John, Mary, Anne and Bridget, followed on the SS Columbus in 1849. Once in New York, The Cassidy’s took up residence at 34 W.Broadway. We find them on the 1855 NY State Census with John age 37 born in Ireland, living in the city for 8 years, a laborer, naturalized and Margaret born Ireland and living five years in the city. Children are listed as John, Mary, Ann, Biddy (Bridget), Hugh and Thomas. We see them again on the 1860 census in New York City where John is a laborer with the information that he cannot read nor write. His wife Margaret is listed as a housekeeper and children living with them are: John, Ann, Bridget, Hugh and Thomas.
The famine was largely responsible for the Irish determination to regain control of their own land,a struggle which we are witnessing today in Ireland.

Posted January 19, 2011 by dmacc502 in history, Uncategorized

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Black Death — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts   Leave a comment

“The Black Death”

Even before the “death ships” pulled into port at Messina, many Europeans had heard rumors about a “Great Pestilence” that was carving a deadly path across the trade routes of the Near and Far East. (Early in the 1340s, the disease had struck China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt.) However, they were scarcely equipped for the horrible reality of the Black Death. “In men and women alike,” the Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, “at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or under the armpits…waxed to the bigness of a common apple, others to the size of an egg, some more and some less, and these the vulgar named plague-boils.” Blood and pus seeped out of these strange swellings, which were followed by a host of other unpleasant symptoms–fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, terrible aches and pains–and then, in short order, death. The Black Death was terrifyingly, indiscriminately contagious: “the mere touching of the clothes,” wrote Boccaccio, “appeared to itself to communicate the malady to the toucher.” The disease was also terrifyingly efficient. People who were perfectly healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.

Understanding the Black Death

Today, scientists understand that the Black Death, now known as the plague, is spread by a bacillus called Yersina pestis. (The French biologist Alexandre Yersin discovered this germ at the end of the 19th century.) They know that the bacillus travels from person to person pneumonically, or through the air, as well as through the bite of infected fleas and rats. Both of these pests could be found almost everywhere in medieval Europe, but they were particularly at home aboard ships of all kinds–which is how the deadly plague made its way through one European port city after another. Not long after it struck Messina, the Black Death spread to the port of Marseilles in France and the port of Tunis in North Africa. Then it reached Rome and Florence, two cities at the center of an elaborate web of trade routes. By the middle of 1348, the Black Death had struck Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and London.

Today, this grim sequence of events is terrifying but comprehensible. In the middle of the 14th century, however, there seemed to be no rational explanation for it. No one knew exactly how the Black Death was transmitted from one patient to another–according to one doctor, for example, “instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick”–and no one knew how to prevent or treat it. Physicians relied on crude and unsophisticated techniques such as bloodletting and boil-lancing (practices that were dangerous as well as unsanitary) and superstitious practices such as burning aromatic herbs and bathing in rosewater or vinegar.

Meanwhile, in a panic, healthy people did all they could to avoid the sick. Doctors refused to see patients; priests refused to administer last rites. Shopkeepers closed stores. Many people fled the cities for the countryside, but even there they could not escape the disease: It affected cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens as well as people. In fact, so many sheep died that one of the consequences of the Black Death was a European wool shortage.  And many people, desperate to save themselves, even abandoned their sick and dying loved ones. “Thus doing,” Boccaccio wrote, “each thought to secure immunity for himself.”

God’s Punishment?

Because they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment–retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication and worldliness. By this logic, the only way to overcome the plague was to win God’s forgiveness. Some people believed that the way to do this was to purge their communities of heretics and other troublemakers–so, for example, many thousands of Jews were massacred in 1348 and 1349. (Thousands more fled to the sparsely populated regions of Eastern Europe, where they could be relatively safe from the rampaging mobs in the cities.)

Some people coped with the terror and uncertainty of the Black Death epidemic by lashing out at their neighbors; others coped by turning inward and fretting about the condition of their own souls. Some upper-class men joined processions of flagellants that traveled from town to town and engaged in public displays of penance and punishment: They would beat themselves and one another with heavy leather straps studded with sharp pieces of metal while the townspeople looked on. For 33 1/2 days, the flagellants repeated this ritual three times a day. Then they would move on to the next town and begin the process over again. Though the flagellant movement did provide some comfort to people who felt powerless in the face of inexplicable tragedy, it soon began to worry the Pope, whose authority the flagellants had begun to usurp. In the face of this papal resistance, the movement disintegrated. 

The Black Death epidemic had run its course by the early 1350s, but the plague reappeared every few generations for centuries. Modern sanitation and public-health practices have greatly mitigated the impact of the disease but have not eliminated it.

Posted January 19, 2011 by dmacc502 in Uncategorized

North Korea willing to resume U.S. missions to recover remains of MIAs   Leave a comment

3.5-inch rocket launcher in action against the...

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Washington (CNN) — Rick Downes’ mission has brought him here, to the National Archives in suburban Washington, D.C. His goal: to find any records, information — anything at all — that would tell him what happened to his father.
“My father is missing in action 59 years ago yesterday. He was Air Force and his plane went down and we don’t know what happened to him,” Downes said last Friday before he headed into the Archives.
Lt. Harold Downes was a navigator on a B-26 bomber when his plane went down over North Korea on January 13, 1952. Some of the crew ejected and were captured by the North Koreans. Downes was never seen again. He remains to this day one of the more than 8,000 U.S. servicemembers listed as “unaccounted for” from the Korean War, a conflict often referred to as the “forgotten war.”
For the families of those unaccounted for, there used to be hope. Over the years, the United States and North Korea — long-time adversaries — had cooperated in efforts to look for remains of those missing in action. Beginning in 1996, North Korean and U.S. military teams conducted 33 joint recovery missions looking for remains inside North Korea. There was success, too — 229 sets of remains were located, and brought out of the very reclusive country.

Posted January 19, 2011 by dmacc502 in history, Uncategorized

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