Chinese Party Marks Nine Decades

July 1, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

BEIJING—Eager to bolster its legitimacy in the eyes of an increasingly restive and Internet-savvy society, China’s Communist Party is marking its 90th anniversary Friday with a no-holds-barred campaign to reassert its airbrushed version of modern history.

For a Chinese leadership spooked by uprisings in the Arab world, the campaign is designed to hammer home the message that only the party could have engineered China’s emergence as the world’s second-largest economy, and only the party can keep raising living standards, while maintaining social stability.

Communist Party Marks 90 Years


Associated PressChinese paramilitary police took part in a celebration in Nanjing on Thursday before the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party. The party is marking the anniversary with a campaign to reassert its airbrushed version of modern history.

But for its critics its heavy-handed efforts are only highlighting the party’s failure to evolve politically and to come to terms with its own past, especially the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward—when millions starved to death in a push to jump-start industrialization—and the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Propaganda czars appear to have spared no expense in their efforts, overseeing production of a star-studded feature film on the party’s founding, a weighty new history book on its first three decades in power, and countless exhibitions, television shows, newspaper editorials and revolutionary singing pageants.

To ensure the success of the film, “Beginning of the Great Revival,” cinemas have been barred from premiering Hollywood blockbusters during its run, many state employees have been ordered to watch it, and at least two entertainment websites appear to have stopped letting users review the film, which has garnered mixed responses since its release three weeks ago.

State media have also provided blanket coverage of leaders attending a string of lavish and rigidly choreographed anniversary events, including a four-hour song and dance extravaganza on Wednesday night that featured 1,500 performers, and was attended by the entire 25-member Politburo.

“History has proved that only the [Communist Party of China] can save China,” declared a commentary from state-run Xinhua news agency that was widely published across state media Thursday.

The domestic security apparatus, meanwhile, has been using increasingly arbitrary and extrajudicial methods to silence the party’s most prominent critics, including China’s most famous contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, even after many of them have been released from custody.

On Wednesday, Beijing police visited the home of Mao Yushi, an 83-year-old liberal economist who isn’t related to Chairman Mao Zedong and has been highly critical of his policies, as well as of an increasingly vocal campaign to rehabilitate his memory in the last few months.

The police told him he had to cancel a planned interview with the Voice of America that evening and was no longer permitted to give interviews about the founder of Communist China, Prof. Mao said.

“I was very surprised—I’ve never experienced anything like this in recent times,” said Prof. Mao, who has also received threatening telephone calls and emails since Maoist revivalist websites launched a campaign to have him prosecuted for criticizing Chairman Mao in a recent book review. “The government’s aim is to emphasize the legitimacy of the party—that is their purpose—so they are avoiding talking about the party’s mistakes.”

Like many Chinese of his generation, he said he personally suffered under Chairman Mao, almost dying of hunger during the Great Leap Forward, when he estimated that 80 or more people in his village of 700 starved to death.

He and other liberal Chinese have long hoped the party will edge toward reassessing its past, especially as a new generation of leaders, many of whom were forced to work in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, prepares to take power next year.

Instead, the party appears to be moving in the opposite direction, growing increasingly reluctant to acknowledge publicly even the mistakes it has admitted in the past.

In an exhibition at the newly opened National Museum in Beijing, only two small photographs make fleeting and oblique references to the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. A recent exhibition of party documents included none from that tumultuous period.

The party’s struggle with its own past was particularly evident in the compilation of “The History of the Chinese Communist Party Volume Two (1949-1978),” which was finally published in January, 16 years after it was begun.


Associated PressA tourist dressed as a Communist Red Army soldier poses for photos in front of a Mao Zedong’s poster at an old Communist Party base in Yan’an, in northwestern China.



The first draft was finished in 1999, but its content was so sensitive that it took the party’s top leaders another 12 years to review and revise it.

Hu Sheng, the director of the party’s History Research Office who conceived the book, died halfway through the process.

Shi Zhongquan, a former deputy director of the History Research Office who took part in the project, said the initial aim had been to reassess the official verdict on the period. Earlier accounts had admitted, for example, that the population dropped 10 million in 1960, but hadn’t given an overall death toll for the Great Leap Forward, which some historians put as high as 30 million-45 million.

In the end, though, the new book reinforced the earlier verdict, and stuck with 10 million, because it was too complicated to forge a consensus among leaders, according to Prof. Shi.

“We Chinese have this tradition of not writing history of our own time,” he said. “We believe it’s better to wait for the history to settle and subside first, so we can see clearer.”

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July 1st, 1892

June 30, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Labor unrest hits three states on this day. Steel workers in Pennsylvania strike against Homestead Mill on the Monongahela River. The mill is owned by Andrew Carnegie. Strikes occur in Tennessee and Idaho as well.

The strike at the Homestead Mill will last five months, but no real tangible gains are achieved by labor.

At 75, ‘Gone With The Wind’ Marks Yet ‘Another Day’

June 30, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 


Listen to the Story at

All Things Considered 


Hulton Archive/Getty Images Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind was published 75 years ago this month. A 1936 promotional poster for the book shows heroine Scarlett O’Hara running through the streets as Atlanta burns. 
June 29, 2011

As a child growing up just south of Atlanta, Margaret Mitchell used to sit on the front porch, listening to adults tell stories about the Civil War as they passed still summer nights in Clayton County. Those stories went on to help inspire one of the most famous novels of all time —Gone with the Wind, which was published 75 years ago this month.

Mitchell “used to pretend that she was asleep,” says Peter Bonner, who runs a tour company in the area. “[She would] lay there on the porch and stick around and hear some of those great stories. Later, she said, ‘I sat on the fat slippery laps of my great-aunts and heard what would become Gone with the Wind.’ ”

Bonner says he’s found stories of a real slave named Prissy and even the tale of making a dress out of green velvet drapes. Those accounts, found in Mitchell’s letters, are at least in part stories about the author’s great-grandparents, the Fitzgeralds, who were among the richest planters in Clayton County. Mitchell was quoted as saying Tara was in fact her grandparents’ two-story country home. But tourists are always expecting something grander.

So when visitors ask to see the Tara depicted in the movie, they’re sent to Jonesboro, Ga., about 10 miles south of Atlanta, where a plantation house called Stately Oaks was moved and preserved as an example of an antebellum home. Tall oaks surround the 1839 Greek Revival style house with grand porches and white pillars.

“Margaret took the Hollywood bigwigs on a tour here,” Bonner says. “[She] showed them everything from little bitty farm houses [to] shacks to [Stately Oaks]. A lot of folks come here and see the two-gallery porches and the columns and they say, ‘Oh my goodness. That’s Tara.’ ”

The Stately Oaks plantation house in Jonesboro, Ga., was preserved as an example of an antebellum home. It's about as close as you can get to the movie version of Tara; Mitchell based the novel's Tara on her grandparents' country home. 

Historical Jonesboro/Clayton CountyThe Stately Oaks plantation house in Jonesboro, Ga., was preserved as an example of an antebellum home. It’s about as close as you can get to the movie version of Tara; Mitchell based the novel’s Tara on her grandparents’ country home. 

The movie version of Tara doesn’t really exist, but Bonner says this is perhaps the closest thing to it.

“Instead of making people feel bad, [saying] ‘Oh you’re so silly, it didn’t really happen,’ we say, ‘No. That is Hollywood’s version. Let us take you back and give you a little taste of it: the foundation … of what Margaret Mitchell wrote that would later become the movie that everyone loves.’ ”

Of course, not everyone here loves the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, and the film’s portrayal of slaves and plantation life remains controversial. Clayton County is now predominantly black and some residents say they’re ambivalent about the link with the book and the movie.

Debbie Sanchez, who has lived in the county for more than 30 years, acknowledges that it’s sometimes tough to be associated with the book. “It wasn’t something positive for African-Americans,” she says. “We didn’t benefit.”

Jonesboro resident Carol Stewart says the book surfaces anger about the history of the South and the rights that African-Americans were denied. “Most people just sort of ignore it because it is a little hurtful,” Stewart says. “That’s the sense I get from talking to … people in the community. … It’s a bad part of the county’s history. Except it’s not really history, it was fiction.”

More On ‘Gone With The Wind’

Necessary evils: Whether plotting a conquest at a picnic or engineering a  comeback from poverty, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) had no qualms  about doing what it took. 

Shrewd, Selfish Scarlett: A Complicated Heroine

Karen Grigsby Bates on the complicated business of being a young black girl with Scarlett fever.

Scarlett O'Hara runs through the street in this image from a 1936 promotional poster for the book Gone With The Wind. 

Pat Conroy Marks 75 Years Of ‘Gone With The Wind’

Author Pat Conroy shares his lifelong connection to Margaret Mitchell’s award-winning book.

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. 

Who Gives A Damn About Scarlett O’Hara’s Dresses?

Some dresses from Gone With the Wind are in worse shape than Scarlett O’Hara’s love life.

Labor action: Mammy (Hattie McDaniel, right, with Vivien Leigh's  Scarlett O'Hara) may be devoted to her "lamb," but other accounts of  slave life paint a less cozy picture. 

Coming to Grips with Scarlett Fever

Growing up, there was plenty to read on the shelves in our house. In addition to James Baldwin, …

March 14, 2009

Race, Gender Roles In ‘Gone With The Wind’

[7 min 59 sec]

But this area now relies on the romantic picture of the antebellum South to boost tourism. In downtown Jonesboro, 15,000 to 20,000 people visit the Road to Tara Museum each year. It’s housed in the 1860s train depot and contains thousands of items related to Gone with the Wind — memorabilia from the movie including Scarlett O’Hara’s pantalets, the Mitchell family china and original manuscripts.

“We have a variety of copies of Margaret Mitchell’s book including some of the original books that were released,” says Rebekah Cline of the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which runs the museum. “And we do have one edition that actually has Margaret Mitchell’s signature, and that can be valued for as much as $25,000 today.”

There’s no official estimate of how much money the area’s association with the book generates, but Charles Wright, who has lived here for 35 years, says it’s been a good thing in an area hit hard by the recession.

“I think it … helps put Jonesboro on the map,” Wright says. “Without Gone with the Wind, a lot of people probably wouldn’t have heard of it.”

Gone with the Wind may be remembered as an epic love affair, an account of Civil War violence, or a story about the struggle to endure. In a 1936 interview, Mitchell herself said the novel’s theme is survival — “I wrote about people who had gumption,” she said, “and people who didn’t.”

Original Article may be found at: NPR

Israeli Scholars Say Biblical Burial Box Genuine

June 29, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Mideast Israel Palestinians Ancient Ossuary

A worker of the Israel Antiquities Authority shows the inscription on a 2,000-year-old ossuary in the IAA offices at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. Israeli scholars said Wednesday they have confirmed the authenticity of the ancient ossuary bearing the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas of the New Testament. The ossuary bears an inscription with the name “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.” (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 6:05 PM EDT

Israeli scholars say biblical burial box genuine

The Associated Press

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:01 AM EDT

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli scholars have confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old burial box that appears to bear the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas mentioned in the New Testament, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The find offers support for the existence of the biblical Caiaphas, who appears in the New Testament as a temple priest and an adversary of Jesus who played a key role in his crucifixion.

The ossuary — a stone chest used to store bones — is decorated with the stylized shapes of flowers and bears an inscription with the name “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”

The ossuary was seized from tomb robbers three years ago, the government antiquities body said in a statement. Because it “was not found in a controlled archaeological excavation and because of its special scientific importance,” the statement said, it has been undergoing lab tests since then.

The tests, which used powerful microscopes to inspect layers of buildup on the box and inscription, were carried out by two scholars, one from Tel Aviv University and the other from Bar Ilan University, the statement said. The research indicated that the inscription is “genuine and ancient.”

Careful tests were necessary because forgery is common in the world of biblical artifacts, where a brisk black market exists and where antiquities linked in some way to the Bible can fetch millions of dollars.

A similar ossuary — bearing the inscription “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus” — is currently at the center of a fraud trial under way in Israel.

The James ossuary was exhibited to widespread acclaim as the only known archaeological link to Jesus, but lab tests run by the Israel Antiquities Authority indicated the inscription was fake. An Israeli collector has been charged with forging the ossuary and other biblical antiquities, and a verdict is pending. The collector says the box is authentic.

The scholars believe the Miriam ossuary was plundered from a tomb in the Valley of Elah, southwest of Jerusalem.

The word “maaziah” on the inscription refers to a subset of the priestly caste. Scholars believe “Beth Imri” refers either to a priestly family or to the family’s village of origin.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original Article can be found at:

The Search for Cleopatra

June 29, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

“The July issue of the National Geographic magazine, on newsstands June 28th” National Geographic



Where, oh where is Cleopatra? She’s everywhere, of course—her name immortalized by slot machines, board games, dry cleaners, exotic dancers, and even a Mediterranean pollution-monitoring project. She is orbiting the sun as the asteroid 216 Kleopatra. Her “bath rituals and decadent lifestyle” are credited with inspiring a perfume. Today the woman who ruled as the last pharaoh of Egypt and who is alleged to have tested toxic potions on prisoners is instead poisoning her subjects as the most popular brand of cigarettes in the Middle East.


Christoph Gerigk, Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation These statue parts—the head of a Roman woman and the body of one of Cleopatra's ancestors—were uncovered during almost 20 years of excavations off the coast of Alexandria, Cleopatra's capital. Much of the city and the area around it sank during centuries of earthquakes, tsunamis, and rising seas.

 In the memorable phrase of critic Harold Bloom, she was the “world’s first celebrity.” If history is a stage, no actress was ever so versatile: royal daughter, royal mother, royal sister from a family that makes the Sopranos look like the Waltons. When not serving as a Rorschach test of male fixations, Cleopatra is an inexhaustible muse. To a recent best-selling biography add—from 1540 to 1905—five ballets, 45 operas, and 77 plays. She starred in at least seven films; an upcoming version will feature Angelina Jolie. 


Christoph Gerigk, At Altes Museum, Berlin Experts believe that this marble bust with a royal headband may represent Cleopatra and was perhaps made while she was in Rome. Some features, such as the curve of her nose, match her official portraits on coins. Ancient authors say she captivated people with her intelligence, quick wit, and charisma. Two of the world's most powerful men fell for her—Julius Caesar and Roman general Mark Antony. "Marble portrait of Cleopatra VII," CA 50-30 B.C.


  Yet if she is everywhere, Cleopatra is also nowhere, obscured in what biographer Michael Grant called the “fog of fiction and vituperation which has surrounded her personality from her own lifetime onwards.” Despite her reputed powers of seduction, there is no reliable depiction of her face. What images do exist are based on unflattering silhouettes on coins. There is an unrevealing 20-foot-tall relief on a temple at Dendera, and museums display a few marble busts, most of which may not even be of Cleopatra.


George Steinmetz/National Geographic That's Cleopatra on the left side of a wall at a temple at Dendera—one of the few images that bear her name. She is shown fulfilling her role as pharaoh by making offerings to the gods. The appearance here of her son by Julius Caesar is propaganda aimed at strengthening his position as her heir. He was captured and executed shortly after her demise.


“Photos are in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands now.”

National Geographic


Outbreak of World War I On June 28, 1914

June 28, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

First World War erupts. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 9:42, June 25, 2011, from

On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle’s imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austria-Hungary declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital of Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the “Schlieffen Plan,” which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front–the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium–the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies’ favor. Bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with an imminent invasion, Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in November 1918.

World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict–the Treaty of Versailles of 1919–forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.


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