Beyond the Playing Field: Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate. (more inside)
The Wise Man. George Frost Kennan, (Feb. 16, 1904 — Mar. 17, 2005). Architect of the Cold War, father of the Marshall Plan and the doctrine of containment in the "Kennan Century". In February 1946, as the second-ranking diplomat in the American Embassy in Moscow, he dispatched his famous "Long Telegram" to Washington. Widely circulated, it made Kennan famous and evolved into an even better-known work, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," which Mr. Kennan published under the anonymous byline "X" in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs. More inside.
Stand Up, Speak Up -- Against Racism (and for Nike) A new campaign against the ugly, very present problem of racism in the game of soccer, with soccer stars like Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand. An elegant (if more than a bit tame and unimaginative) new ad by Wieden+Kennedy. The campaign aims to encourage fans to wear interlocked black-and-white wristbands as a symbol of their stand against racism, which can be bought for €2, or £1.50 in the UK. In every Nike store near you. (more inside)
"Rose . . . is as close to us as family". Rose Mary Woods, who died Saturday at 87, was Richard Nixon's private secretary. In 1973 Woods was transcribing secretly recorded audiotapes of Oval Office conversations , working on a June 20, 1972, tape of a conversation between President Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, that might have shed light on whether Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in three days earlier. While she was performing her duties (.rtf file), she said, the phone rang. As she reached for it, she said she inadvertently struck the erase key on the tape recorder and kept her foot on the machine's pedal, forwarding the tape. More inside.
"We sometimes employ religious language to talk about the historic influence of faith on our country."
Creating Bush's God Talk by Michael Gerson, Bush's chief speechwriter. According to University of Washington professor David Domke, author of "God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the War on Terror", here's how Bush's God-Talk Is Different ("When Bush speaks of God, he positions himself as a prophetic spokesperson rather than a petitioning supplicant".) Bonus: "On What Did They Solemnly Swear? Which president opened his inaugural Bible at random in haste? Which didn't swear at all?". Test your knowledge of presidential inaugural Bible use with this quiz. And: Prayers of the Presidents -- From George Washington to George W. Bush, a sampling of personal and public prayers of America's presidents.
Born-again liberal Christians. Do you think that mainline denominations are hemorraging members? Wrong. Fundamentalist Christianity is the way of the future and all US Evangelicals worship the same political party? Not so fast, buddy. Many scholars and theologians think that it's time for liberals to take Christianity back. Oregon State's Marcus J Borg, for example, argues that Christianity "still makes sense and is the most viable religious option for millions". He contends the earlier paradigm, based upon a punitive God, simply doesn't work anymore for too many people. It is an argument for an alternative to the literalist and exclusivist tradition that has dominated Western Christianity in the modern era. According to Borg, "So different are these two views of Christianity that they almost produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and language. A time of two paradigms is virtually a tale of two Christianities." There is, for example, an alternative view to the Resurrection Narrative not as report of an actual, physical event but as means for Jesus' early followers to express the miracle of his continuing spiritual presence among them, after his execution. It is in short an 'emerging paradigm which has been developing for over a hundred years and has recently become a major grass-roots movement within mainline denominations'. Just don't be afraid to ask questions. Not even about the dogs beneath the Cross. More inside.
"We will come and kill you in your beds, cut your throats, and wipe you from the face of the earth... if Alexander the Great were alive today he would grind you gypsy dogs into the dust, dig your dead from their graves". Since Oliver Stone chose to make his first foray into historical epics with a biopic of Alexander (based on the biography by the Oxford academic Robin Lane Fox), rivers of blood have been spilt -- figuratively at least -- in a propaganda battle between Greek and Macedonian nationalists over who has the right to claim the all-conquering hero as their own. The movie also deals with Alexander's omnivorous sexuality, in particular his fondness for eunuchs. With such treacherous ground to negotiate, and amid thunderous lobbying from both sides, Stone has chosen a middle course (like giving Alexander and the men of the Macedonian phalanxes Irish accents, while the Greeks speak clipped English RP).
A Walk in the Woods. Farewell to the original Cold War warrior: Paul Nitze, the college professor's son who went to Hotchkiss and Harvard and worked as investment banker before going to Washington in 1940, where he quickly became one of the chief architects of American policy towards the Soviet Union. His doctrine of "strategic stability" became its cornerstone for half a century (Nitze held key government posts in Washington, from the era of Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan's, when he was the White House's guru on arms control). By the end of 1949, Nitze had become director of the State Department's policy planning staff, helping to devise the role of Nato, deciding to press ahead with the manufacture of the H-bomb, and producing National Security Council document 68, the document at the heart of the Cold War: in it, Nitze called for a drastic expansion of the U.S. military budget. The paper also expanded containment’s scope beyond the defense of major centers of industrial power to encompass the entire world. (NSC-68 was a top secret paper, written in April 1950 and declassified in the 70's, called "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security"). More inside.
"We can't be too purist about these things" Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK. Howard Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment. Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed. Hunt: No comment. Laura Hunt: Howard says he wasn't, and I believe him. E. Howard Hunt talks about Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs, Dealey Plaza. And what really happened to Che Guevara. (more inside)
"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear." He is one of America's great novelists, but you don't expect Philip Roth to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet. And yet "The Plot Against America" is in the top 3 at amazon.com. It spins a what-if scenario in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R. "Keep America Out of the Jewish War", reads a button worn by Lindbergh supporters rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world burns. The Lindbergh administration hatches a nice plan to prod assimilation of the Jews. Innocuously called Just Folks, it's a relocation program for urban Jews, administered by an Office of American Absorption fronted by an obliging and pompous rabbi of radio celebrity. The teenage Roth character is shipped off to a Kentucky tobacco farm, to finally live among Christians. The book is about American Fascism, but while Roth is no fan of President Bush ("a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one"), he points out that he conceived this book (LATimes registration: sparklebottom/sparklebottom) in December 2000, and that it would be "a mistake" to read it "as a roman à clef to the present moment in America." (more inside)
Fla. OKs Election System Overhaul "Florida's governor was eager to change the state's maligned election system after recounts delayed his brother's election for 36 days and left many Democrats believing Al Gore had won".
Bloomberg to Run For NYC Mayor "Mack added: 'This isn't an ego thing'.'' Really?