Sunday, December 17, 2006

Topics of interest: Week ending Dec. 17

My brother the Unabomber
Ten years ago, the Unabomber was arrested by the FBI after a tip-off from his brother David. His family still write to him regularly in prison but have no idea if he reads their letters. His brother's story has inspired David Kaczynski to become a leading campaigner against the death penalty.

Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution
New York Times
A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

Talking the Yanks Under the Table
New York Times
NO sooner had her words been reported in the British newspapers than she frantically took them back, saying that she had been misunderstood and misquoted. But the question remains: was Gwyneth Paltrow on to something when she noted (or didn’t) that “the British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans,” and that “people here don’t talk about work and money; they talk about interesting things at dinner”?

Ambassadors to honor female WWII spy
In 1942, the Gestapo circulated posters offering a reward for the capture of "the woman with a limp. She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies and we must find and destroy her." The dangerous woman was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore native working in France for British intelligence, and the limp was the result of an artificial leg.

A happy ending for Afghanistan's gold
The mystery baffled archaeologists for more than two decades. What happened to 22,000 pieces of gold — jewel-encrusted crowns, daggers and baubles from an ancient burial mound — that had apparently vanished from Afghanistan in the 1980s?

What would it be like to live to 175?
A tortoise reputedly collected from the Galapagos islands by Charles Darwin has turned 175. What if humans lived that long?

A political battle of the sexes
Al Jazeera
Women should play a greater role in politics but often face violence and intimidation, according to a Unicef report.

Is Obama the Great Blue Hope?
The Demopolis Times
Obama being tagged as inexperienced in political affairs is premature. His tenure in the legislature and to date as a U.S. senator displays his ability and intelligence when it comes to crafting law and being a political leader.

US state board to discuss Harry Potter appeal in public
International Herald Tribune
ATLANTA: The state Board of Education will decide Wednesday whether to keep Harry Potter books on library shelves in one suburban Atlanta school district... Parent Laura Mallory is upset that the Gwinnett County school board voted to keep the best-selling books in its schools, despite her claims that the books indoctrinate children in pagan religion.

`Non-notable' the kiss of death on Wikipedia
Chicago Tribune
Casual readers might assume that Wikipedia's goal is a complete account of all earthly knowledge, but the site maintains a rather elaborate set of criteria for admission. The several thousand unpaid volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia spend a lot of energy ensuring that people, bands, companies and everything else meet what it calls "notability guidelines." Let's sum it up this way: Not everyone is Wiki-worthy.

A fetching finish for a 2-year mystery: Dog lost in Florida turns up in Illinois
Chicago Tribune
Two years after a hurricane blew down a back-yard fence in Florida and set free a golden retriever named Sam-I-Am, the wayward pooch was found in McHenry County.

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