Paris’s Catacombs

August 2, 2012 · Posted in Paris · Comments Off on Paris’s Catacombs 

The remains of more than six million people are buried in a vast network of tunnels below Paris, France. People who call themselves ‘cataphiles’ visit the catacombs illegally and occasionally hold underground parties.

Paris, France (CNN) — Beneath the streets of the City of Light lies a world draped in darkness and shrouded in silence. The tunnels are narrow, the ceilings are low and death is on display.

The skulls and bones lining the walls, arranged in a macabre fashion, make up what is known as the Empire of the Dead — the Catacombs of Paris.

The catacombs snake below the city, a 321-kilometer (200-mile) network of old quarries, caves and tunnels.

Some Parisians are drawn to this largely uncharted territory — a hidden network of adventure, discovery and even relaxation. They are known as ‘cataphiles’ and the catacombs are their playground.

It is a top-secret group. Catacomb entrances are known only to those daring enough to roam the networks on their own — and break the law.

Entering unauthorized sections of the catacombs is illegal and a police force is tasked with patrolling the tunnels, and caught cataphiles risk fines of up to 60 euros ($73).

But for explorers like Loic Antoine-Gambeaud and his friends, it is a risk they are willing to take.

“I think it’s in the collective imagination. Everybody knows that there is something below Paris; that something goes on that’s mysterious. But I don’t think many people have even an idea of what the underground is like,” Antoine-Gambeaud said.

For those who want to find out, but are not willing to take the risk of going in unsupervised, there is a legal, tourist-friendly public entrance to the catacombs off Place Denfert-Rochereau. Visitors from around the world will queue up to see death on display.

“I think people are fascinated with death,” one visitor said. “They don’t know what it’s about and you see all these bones stacked up, and the people that have come before us, and it’s fascinating. We’re trying to find our past and it’s crazy and gruesome and fun all at the same time.”

But experiencing the history of Paris in an orderly fashion is not the cataphiles’ style.

Underground, there are plaques echoing the street names above etched into the walls, helping the cataphiles navigate.

Often equipped only with head lamps and homemade maps, they explore the tunnels and ancient rooms, sometimes staying underground for days at a time.

They throw parties, drink wine, or just relax in a silence they say can’t be experienced anywhere else.

The catacombs are a by-product of Paris’ early development. Builders dug deep underground to extract limestone to build Paris above ground.

But the subterranean quarries that were formed proved to be a shaky foundation for the city, causing a number of streets to collapse and be swallowed up by the ground.

Eventually, repairs and reinforcements were made, and to this day, the tunnels and quarries are still monitored for safety.

The quarries went through several transformations throughout history. Over time, they have served as everything from hiding places for revolutionaries to mushroom farms.

In the 18th century the Catacombs became known as the Empire of the Dead.

Paris’ dead had been buried in cemeteries and beneath churches in the city center, but the number of bodies began to overwhelm the land, breaking through the walls of people’s cellars and causing major health concerns.

So, beginning in the 1780s, the bodies were transferred in carriages at night to a new, final resting place in the old quarries.

In those tunnels there are now the remains of more than six million people. And for the cataphiles, the life among the dead opens up new dreams and possibilities.

“It’s like an alternate reality,” Antoine-Gambeaud said. “You don’t have the same sort of social interaction with people as you do above. You are free to invent yourself again, to be somebody else.”

Source: Underground Paris’s secret life

United States Women’s Gymnastics Team Wins Gold

July 31, 2012 · Posted in Olympics · Comments Off on United States Women’s Gymnastics Team Wins Gold 
olympic gymanstics

Doug Mills/The New York Times

“For Jordyn Wieber, the team victory was sweet redemption after she failed to qualify for the all-around final.”

For the first time since the Magnificent Seven won in 1996,  the U.S. gymnastics team for women, has won a gold medal in the team event. According to the New York Times article for  July 31, 2012, they “did it in dominating fashion.” Their performances were solid and led from start to finish with a wide gap between them and the Russian team who won the silver medal. There was an even larger gap between the Romanian team who won the bronze.

They stood restrained, not showing a celebratory spirit, until the official score displayed the United States at the top of the leader board. At which time they broke out in an enthusiastic show of hugs, chants and roars. The victory helped assuage the pain of loss that Jordyn Wieber experienced when failing to qualify in the all-around final.


Discrimination Still Occurring in 21st Century America

July 30, 2012 · Posted in Civil Rights · Comments Off on Discrimination Still Occurring in 21st Century America 

It has been almost 50 years, since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, yet discrmination is still happening. A black couple seeking to be married in a Mississippi church, First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, were asked to marry elsewhere by Rev. Stan Weatherford. He said that he was honoring a request by some congregants who didn’t want the couple married at the church. Church refuses to marry black couple in Mississippi.

Timeline of the events involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Civil Rights Movement Events

July 30, 2012 · Posted in Civil Rights · Comments Off on Civil Rights Movement Events 

April 1948

Gladys Noel Bates, a teacher in the Jackson Public School system, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Jackson Public School Board for its refusal to pay black teachers and administrators salaries equal to those paid to whites with similar experience and educational background.

May 17, 1954

Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, ruled unanimously that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The court argued that segregation hurt both black and white students by instilling in each group false feelings of inferiority and superiority, respectively. The court added that the damage segregation did to blacks was “likely never to be undone.” This ruling opened the floodgates of civil rights activity and led to more than a decade of protest against inequality and injustice in other areas of American life.

September 13, 1954

 Medgar Evers (later the state director of the NAACP) applied to University of Mississippi Law School but was denied admission because he lacked “the right kind” of recommendation letters. As a result, Ole Miss remained closed to blacks until the admission of James Meredith in 1962.

December 1954
Medgar Evers becomes NAACP Field Secretary

May 7, 1955 —
Reverend George Lee shot and killed

December 5, 1955 —
Montgomery Bus Boycott

August 1955 —
Lamar Smith shot in Brookhaven

August 28, 1955 —
Emmett Till murdered

1956 —
State Legislative Session establishes Mississippi State Sovereignty Commision

September 9, 1957 —
Civil Rights Act of 1957

1957 —
Clyde Kennard attempts to enroll

September 24-25, 1957 —
Little Rock crisis

Civil Rights Act of 1960 —
allowed for the federal supervision of local registrars

February 1, 1960 —
Initiation of student sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina

November 8, 1960 —
Election of JFK

January 1961 —
James Meredith applies for admission to the University of Mississippi.

May 4, 1961 —
Freedom Rides

March 27, 1961 —
Arrest of Tougaloo 9

September 25, 1961 —
Murder of Herbert Lee

October 4, 1961 —
high school students jailed in McComb

Anniston bus bombing
August 28, 1963 — March on Washington, D.C.June 11, 1963 — Assassination of Medgar Evers
Civil Rights Act of 1964

1964 —
Freedom SummerJune 21, 1964 —
Neshoba County killingsAugust 6, 1965 —
Voting Rights Act1969 — Meridian church bombingJanuary 1966 —
Murder of Vernon Dahmer


©2000 Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage

Prepared by the
Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage
at The University of Southern Mississippi


Multimedia Design: Diane DeCesare Ross


Buzz Aldrin Made History in 1969 with Walk on Moon

July 19, 2012 · Posted in Science · Comments Off on Buzz Aldrin Made History in 1969 with Walk on Moon 

NASA / Reuters file
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin faces the camera as he walks on the moon in July 1969. The picture was taken by mission commander Neil Armstrong.


Buzz Aldrin along with Neil Armstrong on this day in history, July 20, back in 1969, accomplished the amazing journey to the moon. Here are some interesting facts about his life.

  • Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon.
  • The first plane he ever flew in belonged to Standard Oil and was completely covered with a painting of an eagle. The name of the craft that Aldrin and Armstrong used to break away from the Apollo 11 rocket and land on the moon was Eagle. The eagle is also featured on a patch on Aldrin’s spacesuit.
  • As a child, Aldrin enjoyed underwater diving and collecting rocks. As an adult, Aldrin trained for his space missions by simulating weightlessness under water, and one of his primary tasks on the Apollo mission was to collect moon rocks.

Read More MSNBC

Scope Monkey Trials

July 9, 2012 · Posted in Church History · Comments Off on Scope Monkey Trials 

How it All Happened

The basis for the Scopes trial was laid when the Tennessee State Legislature passed the Butler Act – which took effect on March 21st, 1925. The essence of the Act was that it made it illegal for anyone:”… to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals”in any state-funded educational institution. (For the full wording of the Butler Act seeThe Butler Did It)The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) were already aware that the Act was likely to become law because it had been passed by the lower house of the Tennessee legislature by a landslide (in January, 1925).

After a few false starts, the ACLU sent a press release to several Tennessee newspapers, such as the Chattanooga Daily Times, announcing that they would provide legal assistance, etc. for a school teacher in Tennessee who would be willing to stand trial for having taught evolution in a public school so that a test case could be mounted to challenge the constitutional validity of the Act.Encouraged by George Rappelyea, (a mining engineer who managed six local coal and iron mines owned by the Cumberland Coal Company), a group of leading citizens in the small town of Dayton* – the “drug store conspirators” – decided to accept the ACLU’s offer, in the hope that the publicity surrounding the trial would help to reverse the town’s declining fortunes.

On May 4th the group recruited John Scopes, football coach and algebra, chemistry and physics teacher employed, on a one year contract, by Rhea County High School as the subject for the test case, on the basis that he had taught from the section on evolution in Hunter’s A Civic Biology – the State-approved textbook.(* Dayton is situated in the valley between the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains. It is just a few miles West of a line from Chattanooga (36 miles to the Sou’ Sou’ West) to Knoxville (79 miles to the North East).)Rappelyea sent a telegram to the ACLU’s New York office.

The ACLU replied the next day, accepting his proposal. Scopes was charged with having taught evolution on April 24th, 1925. A preliminary hearing on May 9th bound him over pending a specially convened Grand Jury hearing on May 25th. The members of the Grand Jury, who were well aware of the true purpose of the charge against Scopes, handed down an indictment and Scopes was instructed to present himself at the Rhea County court house for trial on the morning of July 10th. At no time was Scopes held in jail on this charge which, by the way, was only classed as a “misdemeanor”, not a “felony.”

On hearing about the trial, from the leaders of the WCFA (World’s Christian Fundamentals Association), on May 12th William Jennings Bryan volunteered his services to the prosecution. By the end of that week Clarence Darrow had contacted Scopes with an offer to appear pro bono for the defense. Darrow effectively became the leading defense counsel, though John Neal was technically chief counsel for the defense. Bryan, on the other hand, was only one of several assistant prosecutors under the leadership of Tom Stewart (Attorney General for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit).

Who was Involved in these Events?

(Some characters appear in more than one group because they played multiple roles.)

The Judge:
The Honorable J.T. (John Tate) Raulston

(circuit judge for the 18th judicial district)
The Defendent:
John Thomas Scopes(sports coach and teacher at Rhea County High School)

The “Drug Store Conspirators”: (See The Drug Store Conspiracyfor details)

Wallace Haggard

(local attorney)

Herbert Hicks

(local attorney)

Sue Hicks

(local attorney – brother of Herbert Hicks)

J.Gordon McKenzie

(County Judge)

W.E. Morgan

(local businessman)

George Rappelyea

(Mining company manager)

Frank E. “Mr Earle” Robinson(owner of Robinson’s Drug Store and chairman of the Rhea County Board of Education Note: Robinson is frequently referred to as “Fred”. I am indebted to Tom Davis of Bryan College for correcting me on this point.)

John Thomas Scopes


Walter White

(Rhea County Superintendant of Schools)

Burt Wilber(constable)


For the Defense (The final line up – see For the Defensefor details)

Clarence Darrow

(pro bono volunteer – effective head of the defense team)

Arthur Garfield Hays

(ACLU – nominally manager of the defense team)

Dudley Field Malone

(pro bono volunteer)

Frank B. McElwee

(local attorney)

John R. Neal

(Dean of private law school in Knoxville and technically head of the defense team)

William T. Thomas(Darrow’s legal associate)

For the Prosecution

(The final line up – see For the Prosecutionfor details)

William Jennings Bryan

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor)

William Jennings Bryan Jnr

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor, W.J. Bryan’s son)

Wallace Haggard

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor)

Herbert Hicks

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor)

Sue Hicks

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor)

Ben McKenzie

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor, retired district attorney-general)

J. Gordon McKenzie

(volunteer – assistant prosecutor, Ben McKenzie’s son)

Thomas A. “Tom” Stewart(Chief Prosecutor – Attorney-General for the 18th judicial district)


For the Prosecution (In the order in which they gave evidence)

Walter White

(School superintendent)

Howard Morgan

(student at Rhea County High School – claimed he was present when Scopes allegedly taught Darwin’s theory of evolution)

Harry Shelton

(student at Rhea County High School – claimed he was present when Scopes allegedly taught Darwin’s theory of evolution)

Frank E. Robinson(drug store owner and chairman of the school board)

Expert Witnesses for the Defense

(Only Maynard Metcalf and William Jennings Bryan gave evidence in person – see The Expert Witnesses – and Others for more on Maynard Metcalf) and Duel in the Shade for Darrow’s questions to Bryan. Scientific:

Fay-Cooper Cole

(Professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago)

Winterton C. Curtis

(Professor of zoology, University of Missouri)

Charles Hubbard Judd

(Director of the School of Education, University of Chicago)

Jacob G. Lipman

(Director of the New Jersey agricultural Experiment Station at New Brunswick)

Kirtley F. Mather

(Chairman of the Geology department at Harvard University)

Maynard M. Metcalf

(Zoologist, researching at Johns Hopkins)

Wilbur A. Nelson

(State Geologist for Tennessee)

Horatio Hackett Newman

(Dean of the College of Science at the University of Chicago)


William Jennings Bryan

(Politician, public speaker, assistant prosecutor)

Dr. Shailer Matthews

(Dean of the School of Divinity, University of Chicago)

Dr Herbert E. Murkett

(Pastor, First Methodist Church, Chattanooga)

Dr. Herman Rosenwasser

(Rabbi and linguist, San Fransisco)

Walter C. Whitaker(Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Knoxville)

The Jurors (The list covers everyone who was called as possible jurors for the trial, in the order they were called, It includes their occupation and religious affiliation, and (where relevant) the reason they were excused from jury service. Only those people with a number against their name actually served on the jury.)

1. W.F. Roberson

(farmer, no religious affiliation)

2. J.W. Dagley

(farmer, Methodist)

3. Jim Riley

(farmer. Religious affiliation, if any, not known)

J.P. Massingill

(minister – excused by Darrow on grounds of partiality)

J.H. Harrison

(excused at own request on grounds of age. He was 66)

4. W.D. Taylor

(farmer, described himself as “Methodist Episcopal, South” (Southern Methodist))

Tom Jackson

(farmer, Southern Methodist – excused by Darrow on grounds of partiality)

5. R.L. Gentry

((farmer, public school teacher, Baptist)

J.C. Dunlap

(After objection by J.G. McKenzie he was excused by judge on grounds of partiality)

W.A. Ault

(merchant, Baptist – excused by Darrow on grounds of partiality)

Will Weir

(teacher – excused by judge after he admitted that he was partial)

6. J.R. Thompson

(ex-US marshall, farm owner (not a farmer), Methodist)

7. W.B. Smith

(farmer, Baptist)

J.T. Leuty

(farmer, no religious affiliation, excused by J.G. McKenzie on grounds of partiality)

8. Jess Goodrich

(shipping clerk, Campbellite)

9. J.H. Bowman

(cabinet maker turned farmer, Methodist)

10. Bill Day

(farm owner. Rented his farm out or farmed it himself, Baptist)

H. A. Davis

(Was called but did not respond.)

F. S. Collins

(Was called but did not respond.)

11. R.L. West

(farmer, Baptist)

W.P. Ferguson

(farmer, Baptist – excused by Darrow on grounds of partiality)
Source/Read More

12. J.S. Wright(farmer, Baptist)

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