Fifty Years Ago, Israel attacked an unarmed US Navy ship killing 34

❝ On June 8, 1967, an Israeli torpedo tore through the side of the unarmed American naval vessel USS Liberty, approximately a dozen miles off the Sinai coast. The ship, whose crew was under command of the National Security Agency, was intercepting communications at the height of the Six-Day War when it came under direct Israeli aerial and naval assault…an attack that would leave 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded.

❝ Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the assault on the USS Liberty, and though it was among the worst attacks in history against a noncombatant U.S. naval vessel, the tragedy remains shrouded in secrecy. The question of if and when Israeli forces became aware they were killing Americans has proved a point of particular contention in the on-again, off-again public debate that has simmered over the last half a century. The Navy Court of Inquiry’s investigation proceedings following the incident were held in closed sessions, and the survivors who had been on board received gag orders forbidding them to ever talk about what they endured that day.

This INTERCEPT article has a couple of documents leaked by Edward Snowden as its core. Excepting these 2 documents, our patriotic spies still keep the entire event under security wraps. So much for transparency in a democracy. Even after a half-century.

A worthwhile read. Learn some real history, folks.

Thanks, Martyn

Trump affects America’s tourist business the way we expected


Click to enlarge

❝ Trump Tower, in midtown Manhattan, has become a modern-day Mount Vernon. Tourists have long visited George Washington’s homestead. Now they venture through Trump Tower’s brass doors to ogle the decor—“it’s so gold,” said a German teenager standing near the lobby’s waterfall on a recent afternoon—or buy souvenirs. The Choi family, visiting from South Korea, wandered the marble expanse with their new “Make America Great” hats (three for $50).

❝ The question for America’s hoteliers and airlines is whether such visitors are just anomalies. A strong dollar is one reason for foreigners to avoid visiting America. Donald Trump may prove another, suggests a growing collection of data. Yet measuring the precise impact of Mr Trump’s presidency on travel is difficult. In addition to the currency effect, many trips currently being taken to America were booked before his election. Marriott, a big hotel company, reported an overall increase, compared with a year earlier, in foreign bookings in America in February.

But Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s boss, has voiced concern about a potential slump in tourism. In February, ForwardKeys, a travel-data firm, reported that in the week after Mr Trump first tried to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, international bookings dropped by 6.5% against the same period in 2016. Hopper, a travel app, found that average daily searches for flights to America have declined in 99 countries since Mr Trump tried to issue his travel ban, compared with the last weeks of Barack Obama’s term. Russia is one of the few places where demand has risen…Tourism Economics, a forecaster, expects 2 million fewer foreign visits to America this year, a 1% drop from 2016. Without Mr Trump it had expected a 3% jump…

❝ The industry has been here before. International tourism in America slumped by around 3% each year from 2000 to 2006. Most analysts blame not only the attacks of 2001 but stricter visa rules and anti-American sentiment abroad. Countries that had the dimmest view of America, according to surveys during that period, tended to see drops in travellers there, says Adam Sacks of Tourism Economics. “We are facing a potential rerun,” he says…

I’m not surprised. Are you? I expect the most insular, if not xenophobic of Trump voters will think the question unimportant. Some people hate realtors. Some people hate travel agents. Usually for not very well thought-out reasons.

Swimming Reindeer


Click to enlargeWikimedia Commons

❝ In 1866 French engineer Peccadeau de l’Isle discovered the sculptures of two swimming reindeer on the banks of the River Aveyron. Each had been carved from a mammoth tusk about 13,000 years ago. The carvings had historic as well as artistic value: They showed that humans, mammoths, and reindeer had coexisted in France during the ice age, when the climate of France resembled that of modern Siberia.

❝ Amazingly, it wasn’t until 1904 that anyone thought to try fitting the two pieces together — it was discovered that they were two parts of a single sculpture. Today they form the oldest piece of art in the British Museum.

The British Museum rocks. Even though it’s full of stolen goods.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward celebrate the White House Press Corp

❝ Before comedian Hasan Minhaj got up to poke fun at the assembled White House press corps…Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein got up to celebrate it.

The legendary Watergate duo gave a speech evoking their investigative reporting of the Nixon administration and calling on the current generation of journalists to practice careful, thorough and relentless reporting on the current White House.

RTFA – the complete text – if you missed some point or want to copy it down. Worth listening to, remembering.

Yes, Trump really is stupid enough to ask “Why was there a Civil War?”

❝ Donald Trump expressed confusion in an interview published on Monday as to why the civil war had taken place. He also claimed that President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the war started, “was really angry” about the conflict.

Trump also said Jackson, a slaveholder and war hero who led a relocation and extermination campaign against Native Americans, “had a big heart”.

On Monday night, Trump sought to clarify his remarks, arguing in a tweet that Jackson had predicted the Civil War and would have prevented it had he not died 16 years prior…

Clarification? More like tweaking his ignorance after someone pointed it out.

The civil war was fought over slavery – the enslavement in the United States of African Americans – and related territorial, economic and cultural struggles. Jackson died in 1845. The first shot was fired by forces of the secessionist, slaveholding states on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on 12 April 1861.

Defenders of Trump’s creative approach to history argued on Monday that the president was referring to a successful effort by Jackson in the 1830s to put down a secessionist threat. Nothing in Trump’s statement, however, indicates knowledge of the earlier episode, which was not part of the civil war.

And nothing in the resolution of that secessionist skirmish included the later attempted expansion of slavery to the American West.

❝ Trump’s statements drew expressions of extreme disbelief and consternation online. Many scholars noted that the investigation of the civil war’s roots was one of the richest veins in all of US historiography.

“Footnote for non-US readers,” tweeted the Guardian contributor Sarah Churchwell, a professor of American literature at the University of London. “There are probably as many books about the origins of our Civil War as about the origins of world war II.”

Time and again Trump relies on the core racism infecting his supporters. Yes, yes, often they are the sort of bigots who’ve realized that public expressions of racism aren’t acceptable in front of most Americans. They’ve learned all the Republican code words. They know the rote rationales for the Civil War tuned and tempered by generations of self-deception. They’re never going to offend their neighbors who are open bigots – rather than stand up for Constitutional standards of equal opportunity.

They will accept every excuse blathered out on Fox Noise over the coming week – by Trump and his acolytes.

Turns out “Hobbits” ain’t our close cousins after all

❝ Researchers who studied the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, say their findings should end a popular theory that it evolved from an ancestor of modern humans.

The study, led by the Australian National University researcher Dr Debbie Argue from the school of archaeology and anthropology, found there was no evidence the diminutive 1.1-metre-tall Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region…

❝ Argue was overseas and unavailable to comment but a member of her research team, prof Colin Groves, said the theory of a link with the Asian Homo erectus, the first of our relatives to have modern human proportions, was “a good scientific hypothesis”.

“But we believe it has now been thoroughly refuted,” he told Guardian Australia.

❝ Groves said the researchers had gone into the study of the species with an open mind. But their findings support another popular theory: that Homo floresiensis was in fact far more primitive than Homo erectus and had characteristics more similar to Homo habilis, which lived between 1.65 million and 2.4 million years ago, and which is the most ancient representative of the human genus.

Way cool. RTFA for details on the research and analysis that led to this conclusion. I have no idea how Tolkien fans feel about this finding. 🙂

Thanks, Honeyman

“Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman”


Femi Matti

❝ Because when I was five, my kindergarten classmate told me I couldn’t be the princess in the game we were playing because black girls couldn’t be princesses. Because I was in third grade the first time a teacher seemed shocked at how “well-spoken” I was. Because in fourth grade I was told my crush didn’t like black girls.

❝ Because in sixth grade a different crush told me I was pretty  —  for a black girl. Because in 7th grade my predominantly black suburban neighborhood was nicknamed “Spring Ghettos” instead of calling it its name (Spring Meadows). Because I was in 8th grade the first time I was called an Oreo and told that I “wasn’t really black” like it was a compliment.

❝ Because in 9th grade when I switched schools a boy told me he knew I had to be mixed with something to be so pretty. Because in 10th grade my group of friends and I were called into an office and asked if we were a gang, or if we had father figures. Because in 11th grade my AP English teacher told me that I didn’t write like a college-bound student (though I later scored perfectly on the exam).

And so it goes in a Black American life. And Black lives in many other lands formed by white Imperial economics, greed. Please RTFA. Feel. Learn,

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

First Woman to officially run Boston Marathon returns after 50 years


Click to enlargeBoston Globe

❝ In 1967, 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer made history when she defiantly became the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon — even as race officials tried to physically stop her.

Fifty years later, she finished the race again, donning the same number: 261.

❝ “I just ran the fastest marathon I’ve run in 46 years,” she told NBC News after crossing the finish line Monday.

❝ It’s an impressive feat for someone whose coach once told her, “No dame ain’t ever run no marathon.”

Her story is well-known, especially to female runners.

As well as aficionados of sport – and more. RTFA for the whole story. She’s still an example for us all.