A series of emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request shine light on collusion between the United States government and TransCanada, a corporation building a controversial pipeline from the Canadian Athabasca oil sands into its southern neighbor. The controversy extends beyond the currently poor safety record for delivering oil between the two countries, and beyond the environmental and health consequences of the oil extraction process for locals and the cost of climate changes it will contribute to, all the way to legal wrangling between Canadian media and Saudi Arabia over the "death panels"-like term "ethical oil", based upon a conservative group's advertising that argues that the purchase of Canadian-sourced oil is a morally superior act, because of oppression of women and human rights violations by the Saudi kingdom.
These Americans is a diverse collection of public archive photographs: 1980s Wrestling, Warhol Polaroids, 1970s NYC gangs, Jayne Mansfield, polygamists, Al Capone, the KKK, FSA photographer Russell Lee, civil rights photographer Jim Peppler, early 20th century Mexican border town photographer, Gertrude Fitzgerald, &tc. It is a project from American Suburb X. Many links are NSFW.
Although the sculptor Hiram Powers (1805-73) enjoyed considerable success with his portraits and more allegorical works, he is now almost entirely remembered for one of nineteenth-century America's most hotly-debated sculptures: The Greek Slave. Powers was a little vague about the inspiration for the statue--longstanding dream, or response to the Greek War of Independence (see previously)? Understood at the time as a major leap forward in establishing America as a serious force in the art world, the statue was an international hit (appearing at the Great Exhibition of 1851), and was endlessly copied and daguerrotyped. (Some of the copies turn the statue into a much more ambiguous bust, or hark back to one of its major influences, the Venus de Milo.) However, some observers, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning and, much more pointedly, the illustrator and caricaturist John Tenniel, suggested that an American sculptor might wish to think about other slaves.
Heritage Documentation Programs is part of the National Park service and administers the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) - the United States government's oldest historic preservation program - Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) and Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems (CRGIS) [more inside]
Where Federal taxes are raised and spent. "Some American states receive more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes; others receive less. Over twenty years these fiscal transfers can add up to a sizeable sum." A graph of the United States, color-coded to indicate surplus or deficit.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
The Federal Election Commission has given satirist Stephen Colbert the green light to form the "Colbert SuperPAC." Colbert, via his PAC, can now therefore accept unlimited contributions for whatever candidates and causes he wishes.
Fifty and Fifty: The State Mottos Illustrated mottos for the fifty states, by fifty different designers.
Dangerous by Design: an interactive map of pedestrian fatalities in the United States "From 2000 to 2009, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month." How the U.S. Builds Roads that Kill Pedestrians
50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
Whites believe they are victims of racism more often than blacks. Researchers at Harvard Business School and Tufts University have published a study (PDF) that concludes that "many Whites believe ... the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-White discrimination."
It is a strange, dubious and totally unaccepted moral purpose which holds the whole of the world to ransom.On 1 March 1985, New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon David Lange (Previously) addressed the Oxford Union in support of the proposition that "Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible". That speech is online at publicaddress.net (audio, transcript, highlights) and still resonates today. [more inside]
One percent of Americans now "earn" 25% of the income. Many of them have grown their wealth through criminal exploitation. Roger Ebert asks the burning question: why aren't more people outraged?
A wave of powerful storm cells swept the southeastern United States this week, spawning hundreds of tornadoes that wreaked havoc from Texas to Virginia. While damage was widespread throughout the region, the most terrible toll was seen in Alabama, which has accounted for two-thirds of the more than 300 reported deaths -- the deadliest since the Great Depression -- and where many small towns were simply wiped from the map. Especially hard-hit was the university town of Tuscaloosa, the state's fifth-largest, where a monstrous F5 tornado (seen in this terrifying firsthand video) tore a vicious track through entire neighborhoods and business districts -- narrowly missing the region's primary hospital -- and continuing a path that rained debris as far as Birmingham, over sixty miles away. The disaster prompted a visit from President Obama today, who declared "I've never seen devastation like this" after surveying the area with Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Richard Shelby, and Mayor Walter Maddox. More: photos from In Focus and The Big Picture, aerial footage of the aftermath, "before and after" sliders, the path of the Tuscaloosa twister on Google Maps, People Locator, local aid information, MetaTalk check-in thread
Captured: A Look Back at the Vietnam War on the 35th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. (The following photo collection contains some graphic violence and depictions of dead bodies.)
The German weekly newspaper Die Zeit shows Americans (and a few Canadians) what a Fukushima-sized evacuation zone might mean to them.
Recently, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton released the 35th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, covering the legal status of human rights in more than 190 countries and territories around the world. This year, Clinton had tough words for China, amid crackdowns on dissent. In response, China provides a profile of the US, pointing out actions related to Wikileaks, civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoner abuse scandals related to counterterrorism initiatives. [more inside]
A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
USMC Warrant Officer (ret.) Michael D. Fay served as a combat artist from 2000 through January 2010 under the History Division of the Marine Corps University. He once described his orders from them as "Go to War. Do Art." Fay was deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been keeping a blog of his sketches since 2005. [more inside]
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently announced the rollout of a searchable map, which also offers a nation-wide view of internet service providers with filters for various technologies. The map is based on information collected from broadband providers or other data sources. [more inside]
Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
Adults With College Degrees in the United States, by County. Sort by available years (1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 200, 2005-2009), zoom in on counties, and sort the data by the available fields. Uses the U.S. Census Bureau as the primary data source.
In 1999, psychologist Robert A. Fein and Executive Director of the US Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center, Bryan Vossekuil, published a study of 83 persons who had attempted or succeeded to assassinate a public figure (Google HTML view of pdf). Those 83 were all the people who were known to have attacked, or approached to attack, a prominent public ofﬁcial or public ﬁgure in the United States since 1949. The goal was to better understand the motives behind such actions, and included interviews with some of the subjects. NPR covered the report today, interviewing Fein and discussing the findings. The summary was that the attacks were not political in motive, but attempts at gaining fame. "They experienced failure after failure after failure, and decided that rather than being a 'nobody,' they wanted to be a 'somebody,' " Fein said. [more inside]
Think your taxes are high now? A list of the top ten salaries in the US in 1941, and the taxes they paid (spoiler: 65-73% tax rate! but, still doesn't include total compensation, though, which makes it a little sketchy). Interestingly, the NYTimes couldn't figure out two of the names, C.S. Woolman (who is probably C.E. Woolman, one of the founders of delta airlines) and another mysterious name, J.C. Owsley, that seems to be unidentifiable...
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
An Arlington Lady does not cry. An Arlington Lady is not a professional mourner. She is not a grief counselor, according to their strict Standard Operating Procedure. She is there simply so that somebody is. But before the Arlington Ladies, there was Gladys Rose Vandenberg, wife of Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg. Starting in 1948, she was a constant attendant, sometimes the only one to join the the chaplain and the honor guard. Her dedication spread to others and to other branches of the US armed forces, and continues to this day. [more inside]
A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over? Der Spiegel's take.
From National Geographic News, October 29, 2010 — Halloween Costume Pictures: Spooky Styles a Century Ago. In 1918, American kids, witches, and swastikas were cute.
American Worker Cooperatives: a library, resource centre, startup guide, and map of over 200 industrial cooperatives. [via mefi projects]
Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of The Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope and Focus of its National Factions is a new study that released today, just two weeks before the US midterm elections, by The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR). Sponsored by the NAACP, it reports that the Tea Party movement is “permeated with concerns about race” and has “given platform to anti-Semites, racists and bigots.” [more inside]
A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it." The Atlantic's editor James Bennet discusses with Schmidt how lobbyists write America's laws, how America's research universities are the best in the world, how the Chinese are going all-out in investing in their infrastructure, how the US should have allowed automakers to fail, and ultimately Google's evolving role in an technologically-augmented society in this broad, interesting and scary interview (~25 min Flash video) [via]
Docs Teach, a new website from the National Archives, offers teachers access to more than 3,000 digitized documents from NARA's collections, along with classroom activities using them. It's the latest in a series of efforts under the recently appointed Archivist of the United States David Ferriero to enhance the agency's presence on the web. (via) [more inside]
"Believers, Jews, Christians and Sabaeans - whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right -- shall be rewarded by their Lord"
...[John] Adams’s Koran [Qur'an] had a strong New England pedigree. The first Koran published in the United States, it was printed in Springfield in 1806.
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
How segregated is your city? Eric Fischer maps the top 40 US cities by race, using 2000 census data. Each color-coded dot represents 25 people: Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, and Orange is Hispanic. The maps are oddly pretty, and revealing. Compare, for example, Detroit and San Antonio. via [more inside]
Is the United States becoming a third world country? Macleans thinks so. So does Arianna Huffington. Chris Hedges talked to Ralph Nader and they figured out who's to blame. Thank goodness Michael Kinsley has a solution to the problem.
Rolf Potts will travel through 12 countries in 42 days, with his current location updated here. He intends to do all this with no luggage, no backpack, no man purse -- not even a fanny pack. [via mefi projects]
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
Less than a year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States detonated the fourth and fifth nuclear weapons under the name Operation Crossroads in July 1946. Beyond testing the capabilities of nuclear bombs, the Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." Only two of the three bombs were detonated, and the project was shut down over the next months. To celebrate the efforts of Operation Crossroads, a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured at a publicized event on November 5, 1946. In response to this display, Reverend Arthur Powell Davies, the minister of the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon on the "utterly loathsome picture" and the message it sent to other nations. That sermon set off a flurry of replies and reactions, that extended around the world, including a connection formed between Reverend Davies' All Souls Unitarian Church and school children in Hiroshima. [more inside]
It has gone by many names. "National Reactor Testing Station" (1949-1975), "Energy Research and Development Administration" (1975-1977), "Idaho National Engineering Laboratory" (1977-1997), the "Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory" (1997-2005), and now the "Idaho National Laboratory" (2005-present). It has been the site of more than 50 nuclear reactors, which has resulted in a fair bit of environmental impact. In 2000, the US Department of Energy published (and has since made available on the web) a history of the laboratory over its first 50 years: "Proving the Principle."
There is a bitter feud between the two women who are trying to gain supremacy in the battle to make all of the Tea Party's travel arrangements.
A 136-person Senate. A 1,000-strong House. A 12-person Supreme Court. A President with a line-item veto whose one term is six years. Mandatory national service. A balanced budget requirement. Some of the 23 measures that Prof. Larry Sabato proposes be enacted at a Second Constitutional Convention in his 2007 book A More Perfect Constitution. (And readers' suggestions for the 24th measure.)
For the first time since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb [NSFW photos?] on Hiroshima 65 years ago, the U.S. ambassador will attend commemoration ceremonies at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. But is this an apology? Some say it better not be. The U.S. says - it isn't.
"This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it."
This year, for the first time ever, the U.S. included itself in the State Department's annual report on human trafficking. Most Americans associate human trafficking with sexually exploited women and children, but the definition includes guest laborers who have been trapped into indentured servitude as well. "More investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking offenses than for labor trafficking offenses, but law enforcement identified a comparatively higher number of labor trafficking victims as such cases often involve more victims.” The full report--with victim stories, "TIP Heroes," methodology, definitions, etc.--is here.
FDR: "People who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."
The United States was engaged in the largest two-front war of its, or any nation's history. Though victory was not yet certain, there were discussions on a multi-national level regarding the future peace, and on the President of the United States was looking to the post-war prospects for the nation. With that in mind, the annual address of the President to Congress and the nation was summed up in one word: Security. "And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security -- in a family of nations." This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-to-last Fireside Chat, presented on Tuesday, January 11, 1944, which included what he proposed to be the Second Bill of Rights. [more inside]
The federal Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by Judge Joseph Tauro of the District Court of Massachusetts.