Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 1:37 pm
Back in the 1700s, there was a young printer's apprentice who lived in Boston. His name was Isaiah Thomas and he became one of the first newspaper publishers in the country. He also founded the American Antiquarian Society, which celebrates its 200th birthday this week.
Located in Worcester, Mass., the American Antiquarian Society houses the largest collection of materials printed in the United States. Its library has books, newspapers, letters, even board games dating from 1640 to 1876. Its members include some notable characters, including 14 presidents.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday considers whether to allow a challenge to a federal law that provides for large-scale electronic surveillance of international phone calls and emails. The case is not a direct test of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Rather, it is a test of whether the law can even be challenged in court at all.
The Bark River is my backyard, childhood river. And yet, in a lifetime of travel, I'd never explored it.
I knew it carved the land from the Ice Age to settlement times, from the Black Hawk War of 1832 (in which young Abraham Lincoln appears) to the era of grist mills. But the Bark also flows past impressive Indian mounds. It nurtured poets, naturalists and farmers.
When former Marquette University professor Milton Bates published his Bark River Chronicles through the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I jumped at the chance to learn about the river with him.
Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:10 pm
It was not a good year for people, weather and climate. The winter was strangely warm in many places and the summer ridiculously hot. As a large fraction of the country suffered through extreme or even extraordinary drought many folks naturally wondered, "Is this climate change?" Then along came a presidential election in which the words "climate change" disappeared from the dialogue. Now, just a week or so before voting day, the convergence of westbound Hurricane Sandy with a eastbound cold front is creating a massive storm, a Frankenstorm even, that is threatening millions of Americans.
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 1:48 pm
"The time for preparing and talking is about over." That's the message from Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Hurricane Sandy, the monstrous superstorm that's churning its way to the U.S. East Coast, threatening millions of people.
Moonshine used to be big business in the South, an illegal business that also kept the federal courthouses busy. Now one of those facilities, once on the front lines of the war on homemade booze, is shutting down.
The Johnson J. Hayes Federal Building is in Wilkesboro, N.C., where distilling corn whiskey in backwoods breweries was once the town's main trade. It's one of six federal courthouses closing in the South over the next year or two.
Not so long ago, many Chinese commentators wrote in a cautious, oblique style designed not to offend the nation's famously humorless leaders — then came the Internet, blogs and a cheeky young man named Han Han.
The voice of China's post-'80s generation, Han is ironic, skeptical and blunt — writing what many young Chinese think but dare not say publicly.
Now 30 years old, Han has boy-band good looks, drives race cars and has 8 million followers on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
One of the most bitter congressional races is in the suburbs of Chicago, where controversial freshman Republican Joe Walsh is fighting to keep a seat he was actually drawn out of.
The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.