President Barack Obama will today give the annual State of the Union address. There will be at least three rebuttals in addition to a prebuttal that occurred this morning. The address will be streamed online at Whitehouse.gov. [more inside]
In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
Sometimes state quarters know you only invited them because you thought they were San Francisco. (Previously.)
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
National Register Photostream — Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.
The US National Insitutes of Health recently filed notice of a prospective grant to give an exclusive license to New York based Kannalife for Development of Cannabinoid(s) and Cannabidiol(s) (i.e. marijuana) Based Therapeutics To Treat Hepatic Encephalopathy in Humans. Toke of The Town covers the issue, including an interview with Kannalife CEO Dean Pethanas.
During the US Civil War, metal monies were hoarded for their value, resulting in a shortage of available coins. The Union government issued official "paper coins" that weren't backed by by gold or silver. This "faith paper" lost value quickly, and for a short while, stamps were official currency. That didn't take, either, so enterprising individuals took it upon themselves to mint their own coinage. These are now known as Civil War Tokens (CTWs), and were made and used between late 1862 and mid 1864. On April 22, 1864, Congress set the weight of coins and set punishment for counterfeiting coins of up to one thousand dollars and imprisonment up to five years. Yet there are over ten thousand varieties of tokens, representing 22 states, 400 towns and about 1500 individual merchants. Melvin and his son Dr. George Fuld wrote key books in the CWT field, creating the rarity scale and composition key used by most numismatists. Given sheer number of CWTs, starting a collection might be daunting. Enter collector Ken Bauer, whose method breaks down the vast world into smaller collections, from anvils to watches and so much more.
39 years ago today, Apollo 17 splashed down in the South Pacific, marking the end to manned exploration of the Moon. What we learned from those 10 years of discovery was amazing. [more inside]
"The Western Soundscape Archive [...] features audio recordings of animals and environments throughout the western United States." "The project's geographic focus includes eleven contiguous western states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming - as well as baseline sound monitoring in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." [more inside]
The U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border agreement is wide-ranging in its impact. Indeed, Prime Minister Harper referred to it Wednesday as "the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since (NAFTA)". This deal promises regulatory alignment (including the food and automotive sectors), quicker border crossings for business or travel (with pre-clearance options), and "screened once, accepted twice" cargo. Perhaps the biggest concern for Canadians however are the changes this agreement could have for their privacy. [more inside]
On December 6th, 2011, International Human Rights Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in front of the United Nations proclaiming freedom and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (transcript included). [more inside]
The Failure of Corporate School Reform: schools and school systems desperate for funding often turn to businesses for help. According to some critics, the U.S. educational system has also adopted a corporate philosophy that is at odds with the historical notion of the "common school." Next up: "virtual education reform." A critic's claim: "controlled, rigid, anti-critical teaching results not in subjects with a greater capacity for economic productivity, but the opposite."
"Every day in the U.S., about 500 people lose a limb. About 1,800 amputation surgeries are performed each year in Oklahoma. More than 1,600 of those — about 90 percent — are lower body amputations. So every day in Oklahoma, four people lose part or all of a leg." (Nationally, the most common procedure is toe amputation.) "These are the stories of four people living in Oklahoma — a mother, a senior, a Marine and a student — all living life on at least one prosthetic leg": Standing Tall [more inside]
Truman pointed out the disadvantages of the job including low pay and asked her if she could afford to take the job. She replied, "Can I afford not to?"
On the front of every United States Federal Reserve Note, there appear two signatures: that of the Secretary of the Treasury, and of the Treasurer of the United States. Take a look at any note printed since 1949 and you might notice a pattern: since that Treasurer, a Kansan named Georgia Neese Clark, that office has been exclusively held by women.
Final Salute. Between 2004 and 2005, "Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler spent a year with the Marines stationed at Aurora's Buckley Air Force Base who have found themselves called upon to notify families of the deaths of their sons in Iraq. In each case in this story, the families agreed to let Sheeler and Heisler chronicle their loss and grief. They wanted people to know their sons, the men and women who brought them home, and the bond of traditions more than 200 years old that unite them. Though readers are led through the story by the white-gloved hand of Maj. Steve Beck, he remains a reluctant hero. He is, he insists, only a small part of the massive mosaic that is the Marine Corps." The full story ran on Veteran's Day, 2005 and won two Pulitzer Prizes: one for Feature Photography, another for feature writing in 2006. A nice single-page version of one section: Katherine Cathey and 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey (via.) The Rocky Mountain News closed in 2009. [more inside]
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]