The World Almanac E-Newsletter

Volume 06, Number 10 — October 2006

What's in this issue?

October Events
October — National and International
This Day In History — October
October Birthdays
Travel - Watkins Glen, New York
Obituaries - September 2006
Special Feature: Tax Reform
Chronology - September 2006
Science in the News: Charity Trumps Tribalism
Offbeat News Stories
Links of the Month
Quote of the Month
How to reach us


October Events

October 5-19 - Chicago International Film Festival (Chicago, IL)
October 5 - Cowboy Hall of Fame Ceremony and Banquet (Willcox, AZ)
October 6-8 - Cohocton Fall Foliage Festival (Cohocton, NY)
October 6-7 - Kentucky Apple Festival (Paintsville, KY)
October 7-8 - Apple Harvest Festival (St. Berkeley Springs, WV)
October 7-8 - Fell’s Point Fun Festival (Baltimore, MD)
October 7-8 - Issaquah Salmon Days Festival (Issaquah, WA)
October 7-8 - Oktoberfest (St. Charles, MO)
October 13-22 - North Carolina State Fair (Raleigh, NC)
October 13-22 - Parke County Covered Bridge Festival Oct (Rockville, IN)
October 14-15 - Fireant Festival (Marshall, TX)
October 15 - AIDS Walk Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
October 18 - Circleville Pumpkin Show (Circleville, OH)
October 19-22 - Biketoberfest (Daytona Beach, FL)
October 22 - The Lasalle Bank Chicago Marathon (Chicago, IL)
October 26-Nov 1 - State Fair of Louisiana (Shreveport, LA)
October 27-Nov 19 - Longwood Gardens Chrysanthemum Festival (Kennett Square, PA)
October 28 - Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival (Rebohoth Beach/Dewey Beach, DE)
October 29 - Daylight Savings Time ends


October Holidays — National and International

October 2 - Yom Kippur
October 7 - Sukkot (1st full day)
October 8-21 - Cirio De Nazare, Brazil
October 9 - Columbus Day
October 9 - Independence Day, Uganda
October 9 - Native Americans Day (South Dakota)
October 12 - Dia de la Raza, Mexico
October 24 - United Nations Day
October 31 - Halloween


A World Almanac Book of Records Fact

FALSE ARREST

False teeth can be illegal in some states and may even be considered weapons. A Vermont law requires married women to get permission from their husbands in order to buy false teeth. In Louisiana, if you feel the urge to bite someone, then make sure you do it with your natural teeth. Biting another person with natural teeth is legally regarded as simple assault, but if you chomp at someone using false teeth, you can be charged with aggravated assault.

This Day In History — October

Day Year Event
Day Year Event
01 1971 Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, FL.
02 1919 Woodrow Wilson suffers a severe stroke, which will virtually incapacitate him for the remainder of his presidency.
03 1935 The Italian invasion of Ethiopia begins.
04 1957 The Soviets launch Sputnik, the first successful artificial satellite to orbit the earth.
05 1983 Solidarity leader Lech Walesa of Poland is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
06 1981 Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated in Cairo during a military parade.
07 2003 California voters recall Gov. Gray Davis (D) from office and replace him with action film star-turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger.
08 1871 The Great Chicago Fire begins.
09 1967 Che Guevara is killed in Bolivia while leading Cuban-sponsored leftist guerrillas.
10 1928 Chiang Kai-shek is inaugurated as president of China in Nanking.
11 1614 The New Netherlands Company is chartered.
12 1973 Gerald Ford is named vice president by President Richard Nixon after the resignation of Spiro Agnew; he became the first-ever appointed vice president under the terms of the 25th Amendment.
13 1792 The cornerstone of the White House is laid.
14 1964 Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
15 1951 I Love Lucy has its TV premiere.
16 1793 Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, is beheaded.
17 1931 Gangster Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion.
18 1685 France's King Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, which had given religious freedom to Protestants.
19 1781 British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington at Yorktown, VA.
20 1999 Abdurraham Wahid is elected president of Indonesia by the national legislature--marking the first democratic transition of power there in the nation's 49-year history.
21 1988 Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, are indicted for embezzling millions from the Philippine government.
22 1962 In a television address, President John F. Kennedy reveals that he has ordered a naval and air quarantine of Cuba because of a Soviet buildup of offensive missiles there.
23 1956 Hungarians revolt against the Communist dictatorship.
24 1260 France's Chartres Cathedral is consecrated.
25 1971 The UN General Assembly votes to admit China and expel Taiwan.
26 1951 In Britain, Winston Churchill is named prime minister for the 2nd time.
27 1492 Christopher Columbus and his crew land in Cuba.
28 1636 Harvard College is founded, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
29 1998 At age 77, Senator John Glenn returns to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
30 1905 Tsar Nicholas II issues the October Manifesto in St. Petersburg, giving Russia a constitution, legislature, prime minister, and civil liberties.
31 1992 Pope John Paul II declares that the Roman Catholic Church was wrong in 1633 when it condemned Galileo for arguing that the earth goes around the sun.

October Birthdays

Day Year  
Day Year  
01 1924 Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States (Plains, GA)
02 1949 Annie Leibovitz, photographer (Westbury, Connecticut)
03 1941 Chubby Checker, singer/musician (South Philadelphia, PA)
04 1946 Susan Sarandon, actress (New York, NY)
05 1936 Vaclav Havel, dramatist and president of the Czech Republic (Prague, Czechoslovakia)
06 1973 Rebecca Lobo, basketball player (Southwick, MA)
07 1931 Desmond Tutu, archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner (Klerksdrop, South Africa)
08 1941 Jesse Jackson, civil right leader (Greenville, SC)
09 1950 Jody Williams, anti-landmine activist, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner (Brattleboro, VT)
10 1946 Ben Vereen, actor/singer/dancer (Miami, FL)
11 1939 Maria Bueno, tennis champion (So Paulo, Brazil)
12 1975 Marion Jones, track star (Los Angeles, CA)
13 1941 Paul Simon, singer/songwriter (Newark, NJ)
14 1930 Mobutu Sese Seko, president of Zaire (Lisala, Belgian Congo--now Zaire)
15 1915 Yitzhak Shamir, former prime minister of Israel (Ruzinoy, Poland)
16 1946 Suzanne Somers, actress (San Bruno, CA)
17 1956 Mae Jemison, astronaut/scientist (Decatur, AL)
18 1926 Chuck Berry, singer/songwriter (St. Louis, MO)
19 1962 Evander Holyfield, champion boxer (Atlanta, GA)
20 1934 Empress Michiko, empress of Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
21 1966 Bjrk, singer (Rheinberg, Iceland)
22 1917 Joan Fontaine, actress (Tokyo, Japan)
23 1923 Ned Rorem, composer (Richmond, IN)
24 1926 Y. A. Tittle, football quarterback (Marshall, TX)
25 1971 Midori, violinist (Osaka, Japan)
26 1945 Pat Conroy, novelist (Atlanta, GA)
27 1956 Matt Drudge, internet journalist (Tacoma Park, MD)
28 1974 Joaquin Phoenix, actor (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
29 1968 Johann Olav Koss, Olympic champion speedskater (Norway)
30 1946 Andrea Mitchell, news correspondent (New York, NY)
31 1950 Jane Pauley, TV journalist (Indianapolis, IN)

Travel - Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen lies at the south tip of Seneca Lake, the biggest and deepest of the "Finger Lakes" carved out by glaciers ages ago in what is now upstate New York. The lakes are largely responsible for a local microclimate that has made wine making a flourishing industry in the region. Unspoiled natural beauty is another plus. But there is more. Watkins Glen happens to be a mecca for car-racing buffs. Following World War II it played a historic role as the "cradle of modern road racing," and today it is the site of Watkins Glen International, a speedway that hosts major NASCAR, SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), and other events and is regarded by its fans as "America's premier racing facility." A highlight of the town's annual calendar of events is the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix, held every September; it boasts some 500 entrants and ranks as the largest vintage motor sports event in the U.S., with cars dating from as far back as the 1930s.

Small village turns celebrity

Watkins Glen is the seat of Schuyler County but boasts a population of only about 2000. The closest big cities - Rochester and Syracuse - are at least an hour and a half away by car.

On an early 19th-century map the area bore the healthful name of Salubria. A Dr. Samuel Watkins acquired the land now occupied by the village in 1828. He called it Jefferson, but after his 1851 death the name was changed to Watkins. A scenic gorge ("glen") nearby has been dubbed Watkins Glen; people began applying that name to the village as well, and in 1926 the town was officially retitled Watkins Glen.

In 1948, Watkins Glen hosted the first road race to be held in the U.S. since before World War II, It took place along a 6.6-mi (10.6-km) course over paved and dirt roadways in and around the town. The course was used for eight-lap Grand Prix races until 1952. It is now retraced every year by vintage cars as part of the town's Grand Prix Festival in September.

The year 1956 saw the opening of a permanent facility, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course, now called the Watkins Glen International, or "The Glen," for short. Over the years it played host to almost all categories of road racing, including the Formula One United States Grand Prix (1961-80) along with Indy car, Can-Am, Trans-Am, and NASCAR races. The track's annual NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race in mid-August is said to be the biggest weekend sports event in New York State.

Motor sports galore

Options for visitors with a passion for motor sports are not limited to the season-long series of spectator events. The village's original Grand Prix course, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is adorned with signs and markers and makes an entertaining drive for anyone wanting a taste of what things were like in yesteryear. Between May and October, when the racing schedule permits, visitors can put their own cars through their paces at The Glen (motorcycles not allowed).

Also worth a visit is the International Motor Racing Research Center. In addition to archival material of interest to scholars, it offers fascinating photographs, films, videos, and memorabilia that can interest anyone and a small selection of cars is usually on exhibit. Tablets commemorating celebrated drivers who have competed at Watkins Glen can be seen along sidewalks running from the Schuyler County Courthouse. Additions to this Walk of Fame are made each year at the September Grand Prix Festival.

Slower-paced attractions

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New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Watkins Glen State Park

Attractions for those more attuned to the slow lane include the region's many wineries - more than 40 clustered around Seneca Lake alone. Visitors can sample wines from scores of wineries at the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival at Watkins Glen International. In 2007 the event is scheduled for July 20-22.

For art lovers Watkins Glen has a scattering of galleries. And the nearby Skyland Farm Art Gallery & Caf offers a fine view of Seneca Lake. Its large Art Barn lies amid stone-walled gardens (with a labyrinth), and there is a pottery studio along with art displays.

Seneca Lake itself provides an opportunity for a pleasant cruise. And a large proportion of Schuyler County - roughly 110 sq mi (280 sq km) - is forested. The county encompasses most of Finger Lakes National Forest, the only national forest in New York State. There are gorges and ravines, shaped in prehistoric times by glaciers and later by streams. Watkins Glen State Park, whose entrance is in the village, lays claim to the best-known gorge, walled by cliffs as high as 200 ft (60 m) or more; over the course of about 2 mi (3 km) the stream drops some 400 ft (120 m), and the gorge trail takes you by, and sometimes under, 19 waterfalls. The park, which marked its 100th anniversary in 2006, is a favorite of campers and hikers alike. Other waterfalls in the area include the 165-ft (50-m) Hector Falls by the east shore of Seneca Lake. The 156-ft (47.5-m) She-Qua-Ga (Chequaga) Falls, in the village of Montour Falls just south of Watkins Glen, was the subject of a sketch in the Louvre Museum, reputedly made by Louis-Philippe around 1820, before he became king of France.

Websites
International Motor Racing Research Center: http://www.racingarchives.org
Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce: http://www.schuylerny.com
Watkins Glen: http://www.watkinsglen.com
Watkins Glen International: http://www.theglen.com
Watkins Glen State Park: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=105


A World Almanac Book of Records Fact

MONEY TO BURN

The Chinese traditionally burn fake "hell money," or spirit money, as a way to send cash to dead ancestors. Thanks to advances in technology, they now burn hell checks and hell cash cards as well.

Obituaries in September 2006

Arnold, Sir Malcolm, 84, prolific British composer whose output included many film scores, including an Oscar-winning one for David Lean’s film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957); Norwich, England, Sept. 23, 2006.

Berg, Patty, 88, golfer who won a record 15 women’s major golf championships, including the inaugural U.S. Women’s Open in 1946; Fort Myers, FL, Sept. 10, 2006.

D’Aquino, Iva Toguri, 88, Japanese American woman, better known as Tokyo Rose, who broadcast propaganda from Japan to U.S. troops during World War II and was unjustly convicted of treason in 1949; years after she got out of prison, President Gerald Ford pardoned her in 1977, just before he left office; Chicago, IL, Sept. 26, 2006.

Fallaci, Oriana, 77, Italian journalist famed for her provocative interviews with world leaders and her coverage of wars and civil disorders in far-flung regions of the world; Florence, Italy, Sept. 15, 2006.

Hargitay, Mickey, 80, Hungarian-born bodybuilder and actor perhaps best known for his six-year marriage (1958-64) to Hollywood sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, who died in a 1967 car crash; Los Angeles, CA, Sept. 14, 2006.

Irwin, Steve, 44, Australian wildlife trapper and handler, conservationist and zookeeper who gained a worldwide following as TV’s "Crocodile Hunter"; near Port Douglas, Australia, Sept. 4, 2006.

Lawford, Patricia Kennedy, 82, one of five sisters of the U.S.’s powerful Kennedy political clan who linked the family to Hollywood through her 12-year marriage (1954-66) to British actor Peter Lawford; New York, NY, Sept. 17, 2006.

Mathias, Bob, 75, two-time Olympic decathlon champion (1948, 1952) and one of the first well-known athletes to be elected to Congress, where he served from 1967 through 1974; Fresno, CA, Sept. 2, 2006.

Nelson, Byron, 94, golfer who in his "miracle year" of 1945 won a record 18 professional tournaments, including a record 11 in a row, a streak almost twice as long as golf’s next-longest winning streak to date; Roanoke, TX, Sept. 26, 2006.

Nykvist, Sven, 83, Oscar-winning Swedish cinematographer who collaborated with director Ingmar Bergman, a fellow Swede, on most of the latter’s now-classic films; Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 20, 2006.

Richards, Ann, 73, Texas Democrat who gained national recognition in 1988 for characterizing that year’s Republican presidential candidate, George H. W. Bush, as someone "born with a silver foot in his mouth"; elected governor of Texas in 1990, she was defeated four years later in her bid for reelection by Bush’s son, George W. Bush, who in 2000 was to be elected president himself; Austin, TX, Sept. 13, 2006.

Tupou IV, King Taufa’ahau, 88, ruler of the Pacific island nation of Tonga since 1965; Auckland, New Zealand, Sept. 10, 2006.


Special Feature: Tax Reform

Joe Gustaitis

Twenty years ago - on October 22, 1986 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed an ambitious, far-reaching tax-reform law. So enthusiastic was the president about the legislation that he said it was "less a reform ... than a revolution. I feel like we just played the World Series and the American people won." The final form of the bill had taken several weeks to be completed. The House and the Senate wrangled for some time over its provisions, and it had been four years since Democratic senators Bill Bradley (New Jersey) and Richard Gephardt (Missouri) had partnered the first major congressional tax-simplification plan.

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Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs the Tax Reform Bill of 1986 with members of Congress present.

Just two years before Reagan's signing, the prospects for the law seemed grim - too many entities, it was thought, preferred the tax code just as it was, with its long-cherished special benefits. However, when Reagan came on board and made tax reform the leading legislative priority of his second term, the prospects brightened considerably. Tax reform had become a bipartisan goal.

Tax Reform Details

The most noteworthy feature of the bill was that it set only two basic tax rates on personal income, 15% and 28%, replacing the previous 14 rates, which had ranged from 11% to a maximum of 50%. It also set three rates on corporate income, with the maximum being 34%. Until then, the maximum rate was 46% on corporate profits. Notably, the legislation shifted the tax burden onto corporations; analysts said that business taxes would be raised by $120 billion over the next six years. The taxes paid by individuals would be reduced by a similar amount.

Despite the fact that the business rate had been reduced, analysts expected the government to collect billions of dollars in additional corporate taxes because many business loopholes, deductions, credits, and incentives had been eliminated or reduced. Another of the bill's provisions would increase the personal exemption from $1,080 to $2,000 in three stages from 1987 through 1989. Experts predicted that an increase in the standard deduction to $3,000 for single taxpayers and $5,000 on joint returns, along with the increased personal exemptions, would mean that some six million low-income Americans would no longer have to pay taxes.

Not surprisingly, the 1986 tax reform bill did not usher in an era of satisfaction with how federal taxes are collected in the U.S. For example, a little more than a year later, many cities and towns complained that they were suffering from the end of general revenue sharing that had been coupled with the new law. A survey found that nearly one-third of municipalities polled said they anticipated a dip in general revenues in 1987. Nearly one-quarter said they would have to trim expenditures, and more than half said they would be forced to dip into general fund balances. Many of the U.S. municipalities were facing job reductions or hiring freezes.

However, if a major goal of the tax reform act was to collect more money from corporations, that goal was met, according to a report released by the General Accounting Office - advisors to Congress on the administration of public funds - in August 1992. The report studied 220 large companies in 29 different industries and found that, on average, they paid taxes at a rate of 32.9% in 1989. Three years previously, their average tax rate was just 18.6%.

Reforming the Tax-Collection System

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The White House

On October 10, 1997, President Bill Clinton proposed a list of 200 changes to make the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) "more customer-friendly."

During the administration of President Bill Clinton, one of the most hotly debated issues regarding federal taxes was not the amount collected but how they were collected. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) became the target of a wide range of critics, who faulted the agency for a host of abuses - burdensome audits, harassment by bullying agents, and a culture of secrecy and arrogance being just the most prominent ones. In September 1997 the Senate Finance Committee held three days of hearings, during which taxpayers testified about abusive treatment by the agency. IRS agents also testified that their managers often evaluated agents on the basis of their total tax collections, which violated both federal law and IRS policy. Acting IRS Commissioner Michael P. Dolan apologized for the abuses and vowed to make changes.

On October 10, Clinton proposed a list of 200 changes that he said would make the IRS "more customer-friendly." In July 1998, he followed up this assurance by signing legislation instituting an important refurbishment of the IRS. The main purpose of the law was to change the IRS from a law enforcement agency to one directed more toward customer service. Included in the new bill was what had been called a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," the provisions of which reassigned the burden of proof in court cases from the taxpayer to the IRS and expanded attorney-client privilege to apply to taxpayers' meetings with accountants. It also prevented some collection processes and penalties, permitted taxpayers to sue the IRS for agents' misdeeds, and widened "innocent spouse" protections. In addition, the IRS would be monitored not only by Congress, but also by a nine-member board, with six of its seats reserved for members of the public.

The bill was estimated to cost about $12.9 billion over 10 years, although it included revenue-raising measures that were intended to help offset the high cost. Finally, the law reduced the time investors had to own stocks before being eligible for the lowest capital-gains tax rate from 18 months to 12 months, which was 20% for the majority of investors.

Capital Gains Controversy

At the time, capital-gains taxes had started to become an enduring issue. As part of a compromise between Reagan and Congress, the Tax Reform Bill of 1986 raised the top tax rate on capital gains while lowering the top tax rate on regular income. Capital-gains rates were raised from 20% to 33% (after two and a half years, the top rate would be set at 28%), and the maximum top tax rate applied to all capital gains, no matter how long they had been held. Before the bill, the effective capital-gains tax was higher on assets that were held for shorter periods of time. (In 1981, Congress had approved Reagan-backed legislation that had lowered the capital gains rate to 20%).

In January 1988, Reagan urged Congress to restore the tax break for capital gains that had been eliminated by the 1986 bill, and when his successor, George H.W. Bush, came into office he quickly called for a capital-gains tax cut that would lower the top tax rate from 33% to 15%. Under Clinton's IRS reform law, the capital-gains tax rate was lowered to 20% for certain investments, but when the economy began to slow down at the end of the 1990s, some conservatives were still lambasting the Tax Reform Act of 1986 for raising them in the first place. In 2001, Republican Senator Connie Mack commented that, "we threw away the key to investment and economic growth in 1987 when the capital-gains tax rate was increased."

When George W. Bush became president in 2001, he planned to lower capital-gains tax, and, in May 2003, he signed a tax-cut package that included a $148 billion reduction in the taxes on dividends and capital gains, to 15% for middle and upper income tax brackets and 5% for the lower two tax brackets.

Cutting Taxes

Cutting capital gains was, however, just one part of a broader Republican-sponsored plan to cut federal taxes across the board. Although the idea that cutting taxes stimulates the economy is not new, it became especially popular in the 1970s, when it became known as "supply-side economics." Opponents sometimes labeled it "trickle-down economics," and, ironically, when George H.W. Bush was running for the Republican presidential nomination against Reagan in 1980 he called the policy "voodoo economics." Whatever it is called, tax cutting became a Republican mantra in the latter years of the Clinton administration.

In August 1999, Congress passed a Republican-backed tax bill that would have lowered federal taxes by $792 billion over 10 years, but Clinton vetoed it a month later, charging that the measure - which would have cut all income tax brackets by one percentage point, ended estate taxes, and lowered capital-gains taxes - would have threatened Social Security and Medicare and weakened his effort to pay off the national debt.

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White House photo by Paul Morse

President George W. Bush signs a tax bill, which cuts taxes by $1.35 trillion, on June 7, 2001.

As part of his presidential campaign, George W. Bush had promised large tax cuts. On June 7, 2001, as the economy was flagging, Bush fulfilled his promise, and signed a $1.35 trillion package of tax cuts. It was the most wide-ranging tax-relief legislation in a generation. Among the highlights of the legislation, which was named the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, were a reduction in individual tax rates to 25%, 28%, 33%, and a maximum rate of 35%, which would not take effect until 2006; the creation of a new 10% bracket; and details for repealing the estate tax by 2010.

In January 2003 - less than two years after the first tax-cut package - in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago, Bush outlined a new 10-year, $670 billion tax-cut package, with $364 billion of the total coming from an elimination of the tax on stock dividends. The measure would also speed reductions in every income-tax bracket. This proposal, however, drew considerably more skepticism than his first tax-cut agenda. When Bush had floated his 2001 tax cut, the federal budget was in surplus, and it looked like that surplus would last for years. By 2003, however, the budget had already posted a $159 billion deficit, and it looked like a war with Iraq, which would certainly raise it, was imminent. In July, the White House projected a $455 billion federal budget deficit for the 2003 fiscal year. Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) was quick to comment, "Everyone knows what is really responsible for these deficits - the unfair, unaffordable and ineffective Bush tax cuts."

Nevertheless, Bush got his second major tax cut package, although it was not as large as he had intended. On May 28, 2003, he signed a package of $330 billion in tax cuts. The bill, which was named the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, allowed for the previous reduction in individual tax rates to take effect immediately, lowered the maximum tax rate from 38.6% to 15% for qualifying dividends paid after 2002 (the rates were reduced to 5% for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% tax brackets; in 2008 those taxpayers would pay nothing); and reduced the maximum long-term capital-gains tax rate from 20% to 15% (the lower 10% income tax rate fell to 5%).

Although the tax cut was less than half the size of Bush's first request, the cost of the legislation was restrained by provisions called "sunsets," which would phase out some of the major reductions after a few years. Republicans, however, made it no secret that they wanted to make the cuts permanent. One analysis determined that without the sunsets, the bill's 10-year cost would be more than $800 billion. The signing of the bill was attended by considerable fanfare. A much more low-profile event occurred the day before, when Bush signed legislation raising the limit on the national debt by almost $1 trillion, to $7.4 trillion.

Those two events, occurring just one day apart, exemplify, in a sense, the tax debate as it currently stands. When the economy shows signs of improvement, those in favor of tax cuts offer the news as proof that the recent tax-cut policies have indeed stimulated economic growth. On the other hand, when news of increasing deficits - and they have been considerably large in recent years - hits the front page, critics are quick to charge that the tax cuts are bankrupting the nation and jeopardizing the economic well-being of future generations. It appears to depend on one's point of view.

A World Almanac Book of Records Fact

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Not only does New Zealand have two national anthems, it has two official names: New Zealand and Aotearoa. The latter is the nation's Maori name and means "Land of the long white cloud."


Chronology — Events of September 2006

National

     Bush Defends War on Terror - In the days leading up to the 5th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Pres. George W. Bush defended his administration’s response to the 9-11 attacks and his decision to invade Iraq. Addressing an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, Aug. 31, he called the fight against Islamic extremism "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century." Speaking to military officers and veterans in Washington, DC, Sept. 5, he likened the fight against terrorists to conflicts with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In Atlanta, GA, Sept.7, Bush said America was safer 5 years after the attacks because "we’ve taken action to protect the homeland." On Sept. 10 and 11, Bush attended memorial ceremonies in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In a televised address Sept. 11, Bush said that whatever mistakes had been made in Iraq, "the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone."

     Bush Asks Congress to Act on Trials for Terrorists - Pres. Bush Sept. 6 called on Congress to approve legislation allowing the government to try alleged terrorists using military commissions. In a televised speech, he responded to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that forbade his administration from acting alone to create military commissions to try accused persons. The court held that those being detained were protected by the Geneva Conventions.
     Bush also revealed for the first time, Sept. 6, that prisoners had been held at secret prisons in other countries, and that 14 "high-value" detainees, including men linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, were being transferred from CIA custody to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Also on Sept. 6, the Defense Dept. released a revised edition of the Army Field Manual that established permissible interrogation techniques for captives, including both prisoners of war and so-called unlawful combatants. Several methods that some had called torture were forbidden. The guidelines were for military personnel and government contractors but did not apply to CIA agents.
     On Sept. 7, 3 Pentagon lawyers criticized a draft of new legislation from the Bush administration that denied defendants the right to see some evidence used against them. Three Republican senators - Lindsay Graham (SC), John McCain (AZ), and John Warner (VA) - sought changes in Bush’s bill. Former Sec. of State Colin Powell, Sept. 14, supported them, writing in a letter to McCain, "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." In a Sept. 21 compromise, the senators and Bush agreed that defendants had the right to see evidence presented to the jury. They also agreed that the legislation would not redefine U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions. The House, Sept. 27, approved the compromise draft, 253-168.

     Ex-State Dept. Official Was a Source in CIA Leak Case - Richard Armitage confirmed Sept. 7 that, while serving as deputy secretary of state in 2003, he was the primary source for the "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson in a July 2003 newspaper column by Robert Novak. Wilson’s husband, Joseph, a former U.S. ambassador, had claimed that administration officials had leaked his wife’s name as punishment for his published criticism of U.S. policy in Iraq. In a subsequent investigation, I. Lewis Libby, a former top aide to Vice Pres. Richard Cheney, had been indicted in connection with the incident. Newsweek magazine reported Armitage’s role on its website Aug. 28, and the New York Times website carried his confirmation Sept. 7.

     Senators Find No Link Between Hussein and al-Qaeda - A suspected relationship between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the terror organization al-Qaeda did not exist, according to a Sept. 8 report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The report said that the CIA had concluded in September 2002 that Iraq had no contact with al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden, and in January 2003 the CIA also determined that Hussein saw al-Qaeda and other militant groups as threats.
     That finding by the committee was nearly unanimous. Five of 7 Republicans dissented from another finding - that many administration prewar claims were based on information from the Iraqi National Congress, even after the CIA and the Defense Dept. warned that foreign intelligence services, including Iran’s, had penetrated the INC. The committee majority said that the INC had tried to influence U.S. policy with false information that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorists.

     Election-Year Primary Season Concludes - Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican, prevailed in a Republican primary in Rhode Island Sept. 12, winning 54% against a conservative challenger. In New York, Sept. 12, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, running for a 2nd term, and state Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer, running for governor, were big winners in the Democratic primary. In Washington, DC, Sept. 12, City Councilman Adrian Fenty won the Democratic nomination for mayor, thereby guaranteeing his election in November.

     Intelligence Agencies Say Iraq War Increased Terror Threat - The New York Times, having interviewed more than a dozen government officials and other experts, reported Sept. 24 that a National Intelligence Estimate completed in April had concluded that the war in Iraq had made the terror threat worse. The estimate, a consensus view of 16 government agencies, asserted that the war had helped create a new generation of Islamic radicals, many of whom, after fighting in Iraq, may have returned to their home countries to plan more acts of terror.
     Bush Sept. 26 condemned the report’s leak of classified information, saying that critics who believed the war had worsened the terror threat were nave and mistaken. Bush then ordered portions of the report declassified. One observation in the report, more favorable to the administration, was that defeat of the insurgency in Iraq would likely make it more difficult for terror organizations to expand their ranks.

     Clinton Says He Tried to Kill Bin Laden - In a contentious interview broadcast on Fox News Sept. 24, former Pres. Bill Clinton said he had "worked hard" to kill or capture the terror leader Osama bin Laden before he left office in January 2001. He said that the Bush administration, prior to the September 2001 attacks, had not acted on information that bin Laden and al-Qaeda posed an imminent threat. The matter quickly became a political issue. On Sept. 26, Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice defended Pres. Bush’s efforts to hunt down bin Laden, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D, NY) backed her husband’s position.

International

     Iraqi Casualties Rise Sharply - A U.S. Defense Dept. report Sept. 1 said that casualties among Iraqi civilians and security forces increased 51% during the period May 20 to Aug. 11, compared with the previous 3-month period. An average of nearly 120 Iraqis died each day in the later period, compared with about 80 per day in the earlier 3 months. On Sept. 7, the U.S.-led coalition formally transferred authority over Iraq’s armed forces to Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki. The Washington Post Sept. 11 reported that a U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer had concluded that U.S. forces had been "defeated politically" in Anbar Province and that the situation was almost beyond repair.

     Syria Supports Arms Embargo to Lebanon - UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan said Sept. 1 that Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria had promised to enforce an embargo on arms shipments from Syria to Lebanon. Israel Sept. 7 lifted its air blockade of Lebanon, and ended its sea blockade Sept 8. Hundreds of thousands of people attended a pro-Hezbollah rally in Beirut Sept. 22, at which the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared that Hezbollah was now stronger than before its fight with Israel, and still had 20,000 missiles.

     A New Offensive Targets Taliban in Afghanistan - Amid evidence of growing Taliban influence in southern Afghanistan, Canadian forces under NATO control and Afghan troops Sept. 2 launched a new offensive, Operation Medusa, in Kandahar Province. A British reconnaissance plane crashed Sept. 2, killing 14. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said Sept. 2 that the production of opium poppies had risen 50% in Afghanistan in the past year. In Kabul, Sept. 8, in the deadliest attack in the capital since 2002, a car bomber killed 2 U.S. soldiers and 14 Afghans. In Gardez, Sept. 10, a bomber wearing explosives killed the governor of Paktia Province along with 3 others. On Sept. 11, another suicide bomber killed 7 mourners at the governor’s funeral and wounded up to 40. As Operation Medusa wound down Sept. 12, Taliban deaths were estimated at 250 to 500, with 5 Canadians and one U.S. soldier killed. A bomb killed 4 Canadians in a southern village Sept. 18 as they gave gifts to children. On Sept. 25, Safia Amajan, head of the women’s affairs department in Kandahar Province, was shot to death in Kandahar.

     Blair Agrees to Resign Within a Year - Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain said Sept. 7 that he would resign within one year. Although his government had been elected to a 5-year term in 2005, he had been pressed by members of his own Labour Party to bow out because of his support of U.S. policy in Iraq and his low popularity. Eight members of his government, demanding that he resign immediately, had resigned on Sept. 6.

     Hamas, Fatah Agree on a Unity Palestinian Government - The Palestinian Authority moved closer Sept. 11 to a unity government. Pres. Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party and Premier Ismail Haniya of Hamas, the Islamist movement, agreed on a unity platform that reportedly accepted previous agreements with Israel and supported a final settlement based on Israel’s return of territories it took in the 1967 war. Hamas Sept. 12 supported resumption of peace talks with Israel. An Israeli military court Sept. 12 ordered the release of 19 Hamas legislators who had been arrested on terrorism charges, but the prosecution appealed the ruling.

     Syrian Guards Help Thwart Attack on U.S. Embassy - Four Muslim men, armed with grenades and rifles and riding in bomb-rigged trucks, attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 12. They managed to detonate one bomb. Syrian guards killed 3 and wounded the 4th, who died Sept. 13. One Syrian guard was killed and 10 were wounded.

     Military Overthrows Premier of Thailand - Premier Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand was overthrown in a bloodless coup Sept. 19. The chief of the army, Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, led the revolt, with tanks and troops surrounding the Government House in Bangkok, the capital. Thaksin was in New York, attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly, at the time of the coup. The new regime suspended the constitution and declared martial law.

     President of Sudan Rejects UN Force for Darfur - In an address to the UN General Assembly Sept. 19, Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan restated his determination not to allow UN peacekeepers to enter Sudan’s devastated Darfur region. The UN Security Council had approved a 20,000-member force for Darfur, where 200,000 had died in civil strife. With Bashir’s rebuff, the African Union, also meeting in New York, decided Sept. 20 to extend its Darfur force until the end of the year.

     U.S. and Iranian Presidents Continue a War of Words - The international debate over Iran’s nuclear energy program continued at the United Nations in New York Sept. 19. The annual general debate session of the General Assembly opened that day, with Presidents George Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among the speakers. Talking directly to the Iranian people, Bush said he had no objection to a peaceful nuclear-power program for Iran, and emphasized that he sought a diplomatic solution. Ahmadinejad said international inspectors were watching a "transparent" nuclear program, and he rebuked the Security Council, whose ultimatum that Iran end nuclear enrichment by Aug. 31 had been ignored. Addressing the Assembly Sept. 20, Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a persistent critic of Bush, called him "the devil himself" under whom the United States was allegedly attempting to dominate the world.

     Pakistani, Afghan Presidents Pay Tense Visits to Washington - Pres. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan met with Pres. Bush in Washington Sept. 22, and assured him that a deal he had cut with tribal leaders along the border with Afghanistan would curb Taliban influence, not give the militants more freedom. At a joint news conference, Musharraf was asked about a report that then-Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage had told him to either support the war on terror or expect to be bombed back to the stone age. Musharraf’s surprising answer was that he could not comment because of a commitment to Simon & Schuster not to discuss the contents of his book, which was to be published 3 days later. In a CNN interview Sept. 26, Musharraf said he stood by an assertion in his book, "In the Line of Fire," that he had opposed the war in Iraq because it would encourage extremists. Before they both dined with Bush at the White House Sept. 27, Musharraf and Pres. Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan publicly criticized each other’s efforts to defeat the terrorist threat, notably as it existed along their common border.

     Ally of U.S. Chosen to Lead Japan - Shinzo Abe, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was chosen by the lower house of parliament Sept. 26 to be the next prime minister of Japan. He received 339 of 475 votes. Abe supported a close alliance with the United States, a more forceful foreign policy, and pro-growth fiscal policies. He would succeed Junichiro Koizumi, who had led the government for 5 years.

General

     U.S. Tennis Open Titles Go to Sharapova, Federer - Maria Sharapova of Russia won the women’s tennis singles title at the U.S. Open in New York City Sept. 9, defeating Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, 6-4, 6-4. On Sept. 10, Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated the American Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 for his 3rd straight men’s title. Andre Agassi of the United States ended his career Sept. 3 with his defeat in the 3rd round. He had won 60 tournaments, including 8 Grand Slams. After winning the mixed doubles title with U.S. teammate Bob Bryan on Sept. 9, Martina Navratilova retired, having taken 59 Grand Slam titles in all.

     Quotation by Pope Angers Muslims - Pope Benedict XVI visited his native Bavaria, in Germany, for the first time since his coronation. Masses that he celebrated in Munich, Sept. 10, and Regensburg, Sept. 12, brought out 250,000 and 230,000 people, respectively. However, his address Sept. 12 at Regensburg University, where he had once taught, created a furor among Muslims. He quoted the 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Paleologos, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Muslims in many countries deplored the quotation. An Assyrian Catholic church in Basra, Iraq, was bombed Sept. 15. In the West Bank and Gaza, a Palestinian group firebombed 5 churches Sept. 16. The pope, Sept. 17, apologized for the quotation, saying that the words "do not in any way express my personal thought." He said the purpose of his address was to encourage "frank and sincere dialogue." He said Sept. 20 that he had "deep respect" for Islam.


Science in the News: Charity Trumps Tribalism - Adam Sales

Human beings expect each other to be charitable; if one person by chance has more than a needy companion, we, as humans, expect the more fortunate one to help out the less fortunate one. This expectation may explain why the word "humanitarian" implies helping others.

In an experiment in Papua New Guinea, and a subsequent paper in Nature, three economists attempted to understand how this characteristic squares with another fact of human life: the tendency to form groups, to distinguish between "us" and "them." To what extent do people feel personally obligated, and obligate each other, to help members not only of their own group but also of other groups? What they found was that we do expect people to help outsiders, but we do not expect it as much.

Dictators, Recipients, and Punishers

The economists, led by Helen Bernhard of University of Zurich, Switzerland, chose as subjects of the experiment members of two tribes in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, the Wolimbka and the Ngenika. These two tribes are distinct (they rarely exchange goods or gifts) and they hold neutral attitudes towards each other - none of the elders of either community could remember having ever warred with the other.

Each experiment involved three participants, who either could all come from the same tribe or from different tribes. One participant, the "dictator," was given ten Kina, a high salary for a day of informal labor, in Papua New Guinea currency. Another participant, the "recipient," is given nothing, and the "third party," gets five Kina. The question is whether the dictator will give some of his endowment to the "poor" recipient. His actions are made known to the third party, who then has the option of punishing him by spending one or two Kina. Each Kina the third party spends reduces the dictator’s income by three Kina; so a punishment would cost the dictator three or six Kina. All three participants know the rules before any actions are taken.

The experimenters wanted to learn under what circumstances the dictators give charity, and - equally important - under what circumstances third parties decide to punish. Bernhard and her team divided the experiment into four scenarios: in one, all three recipients belonged to the same tribe; in the other three, the dictator, the recipient or the third party belonged to one tribe, while the other two individuals belonged to the other tribe.

Individuals are different, and there was a lot of variation between different participants. To produce sufficient data to support general conclusions, the researchers repeated the experiment 65 times (16 or 17 of each type), with a total of 195 subjects. They analyzed the trends of how the amount given by the dictator was related to the punishment from the third party.

Equality for All . . . Sort Of

The first significant result the researchers noticed was that although each configuration produced different results, they all shared a pattern: when the dictator gave three Kina or less to the recipient, the dictator tended to be punished considerably; a gift of four Kina brought about a smaller punishment, and gifts of five or more Kina brought about little or no punishment. These results are significant because they show that the third party expected the dictator the recipient some money, regardless of tribal affiliations. In other words, there was a belief that obligations to fellow human beings are more basic than tribal obligations.

On the other hand, tribal affiliation did matter - it affected the average amount of punishment. The most striking verification of this came when the third party and the recipient were from the same tribe. The researchers found that when the dictator was from one group and the other two participants were from the other group, the probability that the third party would punish the dictator was about 30% higher than when either the third party or the recipient was the from the same group as the dictator. Participants were significantly more likely to avenge members of their own tribe than members of another tribe.

In addition, the third parties, when avenging fellow tribesmen, tended to punish a member of a different tribe more harshly than a member of their own tribe. When the dictator was from a different tribe than the other two participants, he or she was punished more harshly than were dictators who belonged to the same tribe as both other participants. Just as the subjects defended their brethren more fiercely, so they were also more sympathetic towards dictators from their own tribes."

Finally, the researchers also found that dictators gave more money to recipients from the same tribe as theirs than to recipients from the other tribe. This could be partially because of the different degree of punishments they anticipated, but the researchers were able to show that even independent of this factor, generosity was greater towards members of the same tribe.

No Group Is an Island

The fact that members of distinct groups felt the need to punish each other poses a challenge to prevailing theories. These state that people tend to be concerned only with exchanges involving members of their own groups. The tendency to punish, the theories hold, evolved to enforce rules within a group, in order to ensure the group’s success. The evolutionary argument is that humans for eons lived as hunters and gatherers, and given the inherent chanciness of finding food under such conditions, groups that shared would be more likely to survive than those that did not - e.g., if three hunting parties go out and only one finds food, the shared food may keep everyone alive, even if everyone remains hungry, and the sharing ultimately benefits the successful hunters (who have to share) because the next time they might not be so lucky.

But according to these theories, if the third party punisher came from a different tribe than both of the others, he or she shouldn't care how much charity is given, and so should not punish at all. Also, if the third party belonged to the same tribe as the dictator, but to a different tribe than the recipient, the theories would predict no punishment, because the punisher would want the dictator to keep the money for the benefit of the tribe.

Yet in both of those cases, the researchers found that the punisher does care; in both situations, third parties showed a tendency to punish the dictator for not giving enough money to the recipient, despite the lack of benefit to the third-party’s tribe. Therefore, Bernhard and her team argue in their paper for a more extensive theory that includes inter-group encounters. Group reputation, intertribal cooperation and intertribal conflict must also be taken into account, they argued, in any viable theory.

Understanding the dynamics of how distinct groups interact clearly is much more than a matter of theoretical interest to psychologists and economists only. The world is separated into countries, races, ethnicities, religions, classes, and so on: understanding how these divisions affect our sense of obligation to each other is crucial to figuring out how to make the world work. The hope, in other words, is that by developing a basic theory to describe a simplified case, such as relations between the Ngenika and Wolimbka tribes of Papua New Guinea, scientists can progress towards understanding some of the complex interactions within, and problems confronting, humanity today.

A World Almanac Book of Records Fact

HIGHEST LIFE EXPECTANCY

Citizens of Andorra, a tiny principality wedged in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, fare well from the standpoint of both death and taxes. In 2005, they had a life expectancy of 83.5 years at birth, the highest of any country. And while death is still a certainty, Andorrans pay no income tax.


Offbeat News Stories — Sarah Janssen

Cuddly Killer

Forget the nursery rhymes about teddy bears going on parades and picnics - last month one teddy bear went on a rampage, accused by New Hampshire officials of ending the lives of 2,500 fish. State officials reported that a teddy bear clogged a drain in a pool at the Fish and Game Department’s hatchery in Milford, NH, blocking the flow of oxygen into the water and suffocating thousands of unsuspecting trout.

"We’ve had pipes get clogged, but it’s usually with more naturally occurring things, like a dead frog or a muskrat," supervisor Robert Fawcett said. "This one turned out to be a teddy bear...It’s kind of a cute little teddy bear and people wouldn’t think that a cute little teddy bear would be able to kill fish."

The deadly bear, attired in a yellow raincoat and hat, prompted officials to change their policy regarding releasing animals in the hatchery. A newly posted sign warns, "RELEASE OF ANY TEDDY BEARS into the fish hatchery water IS NOT PERMITTED."


Links of the Month — Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

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Photos.com

Monarch butterfly

When I was heading to the gym the other day I saw an unexpected sight in the caverns of Manhattan streets - several Monarch butterflies. The Monarch is the most common species, Danaus plexippus, of the family Danaidae, the milkweed butterflies. The adult has wings of a striking reddish-brown, with black veins and black borders with two rows of white dots. The wingspread is 10 cm (4 in). In North America the monarch butterfly migrates in large groups in the fall, journeying south to California, Florida, and Mexico. The longest flight known for a tagged adult is some 2900 km (some 1800 mi) from Ontario to Mexico. Learn more about these butterflies at: http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/butterflies/monarch/index.html.

I'm not a big fan of science fiction, but my friend Tim suggested that I reread the classic "Fahrenheit 451," by Ray Bradbury. I first read the book when I was 11, under the guidance of my teacher, Harriet Simon; she recently sent me a Reader's Guide from the National Endowment for the Arts for the book, and we both remembered our work on this book (yes, we keep in touch!). Firemen in this story don't put out fires, but start them, and the object of their work is to destroy books, because they might offend people, and cause them to raise questions about society, which can lead to anarchy and revolution. While the book does have science fiction elements, it is more of a commentary on oppressive government and censorship. Check out this interesting analysis of the book at: http://www.novelguide.com/fahrenheit451/index.html. When looking back on your life, and acknowledging those who have had an important impact on it, teachers often come to mind. Harriet was just one of those teachers. She brought enthusiasm, caring, and a love of learning to the classroom; I know that my fellow graduates feel the same way, because a group of us met two years ago with her. Check out Teachers Count, a non-profit organization which helps raise the status of the teaching profession in the U.S.: http://www.teacherscount.org/. If you're looking for old classmates, and want to do a people search, one site to visit is: http://www.reunion.com/. A site to find old classmates in the United Kingdom is: http://www.oldschoolmates.co.uk/.

The first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was a sheep called Dolly, who was born a decade ago on July 5, 1996. She was created by scientists at Scotland's Roslin Institute by using a cell from a mammary gland. Dolly was put to sleep at the age of six, after having been diagnosed with a progressive lung disease that normally affects older sheep. She had previously suffered from a form of arthritis. Learn more about Dolly and cloning at: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/antenna/dolly/index.asp.

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Library of Congress

Mary Todd Lincoln

I've just finished the book "Grief," by Andrew Holleran, a moving novel which explores loss, grief, aging, resilience, and love. This is the story of a man (an unnamed narrator), who arrives in Washington, D.C., to teach a university seminar on Literature and AIDS. Still dealing with the death of his mother, he explores Washington by foot, and delves into the letters of Mary Todd Lincoln, and the grief she suffered, and never recovered from, after the death of her husband and several children. Learn more about Holleran's novel at: http://www.hyperionbooks.com/titlepage.asp?ISBN=1401302505. A source for learning with grief can be found at http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm. Learn more about Lincoln by reading, "Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters" by Justin G. Turner, Linda Levitt Turner, and visiting: http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=17.

The oldest existing recording is a talking clock prototype devised by Frank Lambert of the Ansonia Clock Company. After Thomas Edison signed a contract with Ansonia on Jan. 7, 1878, Lambert recorded himself counting off the hours in quick succession on a cylinder made of lead rather than the standard tinfoil. The scratchy and ghostly recording is now owned by a private collector but can be heard online at http://www.tinfoil.com/. Okay, it's more than scratchy, but it is 128 years old. This site is dedicated to the preservation of early recordings.

The world's largest cathedral, and the largest U.S. church, is the unfinished Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, with a floor area of about 120,000 square feet. The cathedral also has the longest nave in the world (601 ft) but lacks its towers and transept. The temporary Gustavino dome, finished in 1911 is 162 feet high. Construction began in 1892 and has yet to be completed. Learn more about the cathedral at: http://www.stjohndivine.org/.

Autumn officially began here in the U.S. on September 23rd, and here in the east here that means that the leaves on trees will soon begin to change color, giving us an opportunity to observe "fall foliage" at its best. Find out why leaves change color at http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm.

Unusual Website of the Month - We used to call them "Unibrows": http://www.monobrow.com/.


Quote of the Month

"When we tug on a single thing in nature, we find it attached to everything else."
     - John Muir (1838-1914), American explorer and naturalist, born in Dunbar, Scotland.


© World Almanac Education Group

World Almanac E-Newsletter
Edward A. Thomas, Editor in Chief

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Mary Funchion, Jane Flynn, C. Alan Joyce, Walter Kronenberg, and Linda Van Orden.

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