Volume 07, Number 08 — August 2007

What's in this issue?

August Events
August Holidays — National and International
This Day In History — August
August Birthdays
Travel - Pisa's Field of Miracles, and More
Obituaries - Past Month Year
Special Feature: The Birth of India and Pakistan
Chronology - July 2007
Science in the News: Life Is So Unfair: Birth Order and IQ
Offbeat News Stories
Links of the Month
Quote of the Month
How to reach us

August Events

August 1 - Miss Crustacean USA Beauty Pageant and Ocean City Creep (Ocean City, NJ)
August 1-5 - Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, ME)
August 2-5 - Satchmo Summerfest (New Orleans, LA)
August 3-12 - Hot August Nights (Reno, NV)
August 6-11 - Old Fiddlers’ Convention (Galax, VA)
August 6-12 - World Footbag Championships (Portland, OR)
August 6-12 - Sturgis Rally (Sturgis, SD)
August 9-12 - PGA Championship (Tulsa, OK)
August 9-12 - National Hobo Convention (Britt, IA)
August 9-13 - Perseid Meteor Showers
August 11 - Watermelon Festival (Rush Springs, OK)
August 11-19 - Elvis Week (Memphis, TN)
August 16-19 - Milwaukee Irish Fest (Wisconsin)
August 17-26 - Little League World Series (Williamsport, PA)
August 22-26 - Corn Palace Festival (Mitchell, SD)
August 24-26 - Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival (Denver, CO)
August 24-29 - Beatles Festival (Liverpool, Merseyside, England)
August 25-26 - Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival
August 29-September 3 - Nugget Best in the West Rib Cook-Off (Sparks, NV)
August 31-September 3 - Hog Capital of the World Festival (Kewanee, IL)

August Holidays — National and International

August 3 - Independence Day (Niger)
August 6 - Picnic Day (Australia)
August 9 - National Women’s Day (South Africa)
August 10 - Independence Day (Ecuador)
August 14 - Independence Day (Pakistan)
August 15 - Independence Day (India)
August 26 - Chung Yuan Festival (China)

Did You Know?

New Hampshire and Vermont elect new governors every two years -- all other states have a 4-year interval.

This Day In History — August

Day Year Event
Day Year Event
01 1944 Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary; she and her family are discovered in their hiding place 3 days later and taken to concentration camps.
02 1923 Pres. Warren G. Harding dies after falling ill; he is succeeded by Vice Pres. Calvin Coolidge.
03 1492 Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain aboard the Santa Maria.
04 1977 Pres. Jimmy Carter signs an act creating a new cabinet-level Energy Dept.
05 1962 Actress Marilyn Monroe dies in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills.
06 1945 The U.S. bomber Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb on the Japanese port of Hiroshima; some 75,000 people are killed.
07 1947 Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl completes a 101-day journey across more than 4,000 miles of the Pacific on a balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki.
08 1974 Pres. Richard Nixon announces his resignation.
09 1945 During World War II, the 2nd atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, killing some 40,000 people.
10 1977 One of the most dramatic manhunts in the nation's history ends with the arrest of David Richard Berkowitz, 24, the alleged murderer who calls himself "Son of Sam."
11 1965 Rioting by blacks begins in the Los Angeles area of Watts; when it ends 5 days later, it leaves 34 dead and $200 million in property damage.
12 2000 A Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, plunges to the bottom of the Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board.
13 1521 Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes takes Mexico City from the Aztecs.
14 1935 The U.S. Congress passes the Social Security Act.
15 1947 India gains its independence from Britain.
16 1977 Elvis Presley dies in a Memphis hospital at the age of 42.
17 1863 Union forces begin shelling Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
18 1963 James Meredith graduates from the Univ. of Mississippi, becoming the first black to do so.
19 1934 In a plebiscite, almost 90% of Germans vote to give Adolf Hitler the title of president in addition to chancellor, placing him in supreme command of the country.
20 1968 Czechoslovakia is invaded and occupied by Warsaw Pact troops.
21 1858 The Lincoln -Douglas debates begin in Illinois.
22 1947 The Taft-Hartley labor law goes into effect two months after Congress overrode President Truman's veto, imposing tightened restrictions on strikes.
23 1927 Radicals Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for a 1920 Massachusetts holdup in which 2 were killed. (The controversial verdict against them was repudiated in 1977.)
24 1814 In the War of 1812, the British capture Washington, D.C., and burn the Capitol and the White House.
25 1944 In World War II, Paris is liberated, and Charles de Gaulle leads a parade down the Champs Elysées.
26 1883 Krakatau (Krakatoa) erupts in Indonesia, causing huge tidal waves and killing some 36,000 people.
27 1859 The first commercially productive oil well is drilled near Titusville, PA.
28 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech as some 200,000 people march on Washington in support of black demands for equal rights.
29 1889 The first U.S. professional tennis match is played, in Newport, RI.
30 1893 Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Pres. Grover Cleveland, becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House, when daughter Esther is born.
31 1887 Thomas Edison receives a patent for his Kinetoscope, which produces moving pictures.

August Birthdays

Day Year  
Day Year  
01 1933 Dom DeLuise, actor/comedian (Brooklyn, NY)
02 1942 Isabel Allende, writer (Lima, Peru)
03 1941 Martha Stewart, homemaking adviser/entrepreneur/TV personality (Nutley, NJ)
04 1930 Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraqi Shiite religious leader (Mashhad, Iran)
05 1930 Neil Armstrong, astronaut and first man to walk on the Moon (Wapakoneta, OH)
06 1957 James McGreevey, NJ governor (Jersey City, NJ)
07 1975 Charlize Theron, actress (Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa)
08 1923 Esther Williams, swimmer and actress (Los Angeles, CA)
09 1967 Deion Sanders, football/baseball player (Fort Meyers, FL)
10 1947 Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian politician (Penang, Malaysia)
11 1937 Anna Massey, actress (Thankeham, England)
12 1971 Pete Sampras, tennis champion (Washington, D.C.)
13 1926 Fidel Castro, Cuban president (Mayari, Oriente Province, Cuba)
14 1926 Lina Wertmuller, film director (Rome, Italy)
15 1950 Princess Anne, British princess and equestrian, daughter of Queen Elizabeth (London, England)
16 1947 Carol Moseley Braun, senator, ambassador; 2004 presidential contender (Chicago, IL)
17 1932 V. S. Naipaul, writer (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad)
18 1937 Robert Redford, actor/director (Santa Monica, CA)
19 1953 Mary Matalin, political commentator (Chicago, IL)
20 1931 Don King, boxing promoter (Cleveland, OH)
21 1963 Mohammed VI, Moroccan king (Rabat, Morocco)
22 1947 Cindy Williams, actress (Van Nuys, CA)
23 1951 Noor, queen of Jordan (Washington, D.C.)
24 1936 A. S. Byatt, writer (Sheffield, England)
25 1917 Mel Ferrer, actor (Elberon, NJ)
26 1957 Rick Hansen, paraplegic athlete (Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada)
27 1976 Sarah Chalke, actress (Ottawa, Canada)
28 1982 LeAnn Rimes, country singer (Jackson, MS)
29 1923 Sir Richard Attenborough, director/producer (Cambridge, England)
30 1930 Warren Buffett, investor (Omaha, NE)
31 1968 Hideo Nomo, baseball pitcher (Osaka, Japan)

Travel - Pisa's Field of Miracles, and More


(c) Edward A. Thomas

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa is an ancient town on Italy's Arno River, just a few miles from the sea. Today, it's a relatively small place, with a population of less than 100,000, best known for its distinguished university, and for the stunning Romanesque architecture that remains from its glorious heyday in the medieval period. Around the tenth century A.D. the city had developed into a major maritime power in the Mediterranean, acquiring the resources to undertake ambitious construction projects. Among these was a marvelous collection of buildings erected on a vast lawn familiarly known as the Field of Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli), also called Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo). The complex was designated a World Heritage site by Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) in 1987. Besides the massive cathedral (Duomo), it includes a baptistery, a striking walled cemetery (Camposanto), and last but not least, the world’s most famous bell tower, or campanile, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Tipsy tower

The campanile, built on soft ground between 1173 and 1360, started listing already while it was under construction. As centuries passed, it leaned more and more. Efforts to stop the process proved fruitless. By 1980 the inclination of the 184-ft (56-m ) tower reached 5.5 degrees, some 15 ft (4.5 m) from vertical. A decade later, authorities, fearing that the monument, its location in the Field of Miracles notwithstanding, might actually fall down, closed it to the public. There followed years of debate as to what to do. Finally an international team of experts was charged with executing a complex plan that involved anchoring the tower with massive weights and slowly removing dirt from under the side opposite the tilt. Some 70 tons of soil were extracted, and by 2001 the tower had been pulled back some 18 in (45 cm), to about the position it had in 1838. The campanile was reopened to visitors at the end of 2001. Engineers continued to monitor its position and stability, while restoration work proceeded on the exterior. In mid-2007 the project was declared a success, and a series of celebratory events followed.


(c) Edward A. Thomas

Interior of the Duomo

Meanwhile, developers moved forward with controversial plans to build a "copy" of the Leaning Tower about 3 mi (5 km) away. The new tower, a steel and glass residential/office structure with the same height as the original, will look as if it's leaning, owing to an optical illusion. While opponents voiced fears it would ruin the view, Pisa's urban planner, Giuseppe Sardu, called the project "an example of beauty and functionality" that would help draw in tourists.

Medieval splendor

In any case, the Field of Miracles remains a magnet for visitors. Aside from the Leaning Tower, the cathedral features a remarkable white and gray banded facade with four levels of colonnades. Masterpieces within include a large mosaic of Christ, executed partly by Cimabue, and a superb pulpit by Giovanni Pisano - both from around 1300. The Gothic/Romanesque baptistery, dating from the 12th to 14th centuries, is said to be the biggest of its type in Italy, and is blessed with extraordinary acoustics. The white marble Camposanto, completed in the 15th century, has been declared "the most beautiful cemetery in the world," although its trove of sculptures and frescoes was devastated by Allied bombs in World War II. According to legend, it stands on soil taken from the Holy Land.


(c) Edward A. Thomas


The courtyard of the nearby Museo dell'Opera del Duomo affords a fine view of the tower, but the museum itself merits a visit. Its holdings include countless paintings, sculptures, and other works originally located in the ecclesiastical buildings on the Field of Miracles. Another museum associated with the Cathedral Square assemblage is the Museo delle Sinopie, where you can see sinopias - preliminary fresco sketches - that were found underneath the remains of the Camposanto's frescoes after the cemetery was bombed.

Beyond the Field of Miracles

Although many tourists spend only a little time in Pisa, just enough to savor the Field of Miracles, the city has much more to offer. The National Museum of Saint Matthew (Museo Nazionale di San Matteo), located in an old convent on the Arno, has a rich collection of sculptures and paintings from the 12th to 18th centuries. A stroll through the town's old quarters will reward you with views of fine palaces and mansions where famous figures of the past once lived, such as the Medicis and the English poet Lord Byron. Churches of special note include the octagonal 12th-century Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Santo Sepolcro), said to have been built to protect relics from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the tiny, multi-turreted 14th-century Gothic Church of Saint Mary of the Thorn (Santa Maria della Spina), which reportedly once held a thorn from Christ's crown of thorns.

While Pisa's chief claim to cultural fame lies in its medieval riches, there are also intriguing treasures from other periods. The rear wall of the church of St. Anthony, for example, bears an immense - 1900 sq ft (180 sq m) - colorful mural by American graffiti/pop master Keith Haring, called Tuttomondo (1989). And going back to ancient times, a number of Roman ships some 2000 years old have been uncovered in the silt occupying what was once the town's harbor, about a ten-minute walk from the Field of Miracles.

ItalyGuides: A virtual travel to Pisa and the leaning tower
The Leaning Tower of Pisa Official Website
Opera della Primaziale Pisana (The Opera and the Square)
Pisa Online
Rete Civica Pisana

Did You Know?

U.S. Supreme Court justice John Rutledge, who served from 1789 to 1791, was the only person in U.S. history to be nominated for Chief Justice but rejected by the U.S. Senate.

Obituaries in July 2007


Lyndon B. Johnson Library

Lady Bird Johnson in 1987

Antonioni, Michelangelo, 94, Italian film director who masterfully captured modern alienation in such works as L’Avventura (1960), Blow-Up (1966) and The Passenger (1975); Rome, Italy, July 30, 2007.

Bergman, Ingmar, 89, Swedish film director whose psychologically probing films, dense with symbolism, grappled with such themes as existential despair, fear of death, loss of faith and the battle between the sexes; among his best-known works, were Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1965), Cries and Whispers (1972) and Fanny and Alexander (1982); he was also a noteworthy stage director; Fårö, Sweden, July 30, 2007.

Crespin, Régine, 80, French soprano who performed in major opera houses around the world, singing in five languages, including English and Russian; Paris, France, July 4, 2007.

Ellis, Albert, 93, psychotherapist who in the 1950s developed rational emotive behavior therapy, which, in contrast to the Freudian approach then in vogue, focused on directly confronting psychological problems in the here and now rather than trying to link them to traumatic childhood experiences; New York, NY, July 24, 2007.

Johnson, Lady Bird, 94, widow of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the U.S., and one of the main keepers of his legacy since his 1973 death; as first lady, she championed environmental causes, taking a particular interest in highway beautification, through such means as planting wildflowers and eliminating billboards; Austin, TX, July 11, 2007.

Marlette, Doug, 57, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who was also the creator of the syndicated comic strip "Kudzu," which satirized small-town Southern life; near Holly Springs, MS, July 10, 2007.


Flickr/Darwin Bell

Tammy Faye Messner

Messner, Tammy Faye, 65, diminutive evangelist and gospel singer given to elaborate hairdos and heavy use of makeup; with her first husband, evangelist Jim Bakker, she hosted a TV show on the couple’s PTL (Praise the Lord) network that reached millions of households; a series of sex and money scandals led to the collapse of their ministry in the late 1980s, and they were divorced in 1992, while he was in jail; she later became a TV personality in her own right and a gay rights champion; near Kansas City, MO, July 20, 2007.

Sills, Beverly, 78, one of the first opera singers to reach the pinnacle of her profession as an exclusively U.S.-trained artist, winning international acclaim with the New York City Opera; she was also an arts administrator, philanthropist and TV personality; New York, NY, July 2, 2007.

Snyder, Tom, 71, quirky TV interviewer who from 1973 to 1982 hosted a post-midnight talk show on NBC called "The Tomorrow Show"; he hosted a similar show on CBS from 1995 to 1999; Tiburon, CA, July 29, 2007.

Szarkowski, John, 81 longtime chief curator of photography at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art who played a key role in establishing photography as an art form comparable to painting and sculpture; Pittsfield, MA, July 7, 2007.

Walsh, Bill, 75, football coach who led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and pioneered what came to be known as the West Coast offense, based on short drives rather than long passes; Woodside, CA, July 30, 2007.

Zahir Shah, Mohammad, 92, last king of Afghanistan; he ruled from 1933 until 1973, when he was overthrown by one of his cousins, who proclaimed the country a republic; he spent 29 years in exile in Italy before being invited back to Afghanistan in 2002, to serve thereafter as the ceremonial "father of the nation"; Kabul, Afghanistan, July 23, 2007.

Special Feature: The Birth of India and Pakistan

Joe Gustaitis

On August 15, 1947 - 60 years ago - a new country was born: the nation of India. This was just one day after another new nation, Pakistan, had gained independence. Both countries came into existence after a long struggle against nearly 200 years of British colonial rule.

An Ancient Civilization

The civilizations of South Asia, of course, are among the oldest in the world. The first cities in the area emerged in the Indus River Valley in what is now Pakistan around 2500 B.C., the two largest settlements being Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which archaeologists consider two of the earliest examples of city planning. Around 1700 B.C., Indo-Aryan peoples arrived from the northwest. Over the next 2000 years, they created what is known as the Brahmanic civilization, during which Hinduism developed.

In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., the Gupta dynasty brought Indian culture to heights of splendor, and the arts and literature flourished. Arab traders introduced Islam to India in the 8th century and by 1000 A.D., Islamic armies were launching forays into South Asia. The first Muslim kingdom in India, the Delhi Sultanate, was established in 1192. Under the rule of the Emperor Aurangzeb, the forces of Islam gained control of nearly all of India, although the vast majority of the population clung to their Hindu faith. Thus were planted the seeds of the Hindu-Muslim divide that remains an abiding issue in the region today.

Europeans began exploring the Indian subcontinent at the end of the 15th century. In 1498, Vasco da Gama of Portugal reached Calicut, now known as Kozhikode, establishing a Portuguese monopoly on trade until they were elbowed out by the Dutch, who founded the Dutch East India Company. Great Britain, France, and Denmark also set up East India companies, and eventually it came down to a struggle between France and Great Britain. The beginning of British colonial rule is usually considered to be 1757, when forces under Robert Clive defeated the Nawab of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey. England's victory over France in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) enabled the British to take control of the area, and in 1773, Warren Hastings became the first British governor-general of India. In 1877, amid great pomp and ritual, Queen Victoria was crowned empress of India.

Quest for Independence

One of the first serious upheavals aimed at attaining Indian independence had come in 1857-1859, when bands of Indian soldiers, known as sepoys, staged what it known as the Sepoy Mutiny.What began as a single incident of defiance spread until it engulfed much of north and central India. British firepower and military strength, which had all along been the keys to control of the subcontinent, ultimately suppressed the rebellion, although the British government was alarmed enough to transfer the administration of India from East India Company to the crown in 1877.



Mohandas Gandhi

The British established universities in India, such as Elphinstone College, which dates back to 1824, Wilson College (1832), and Sydenham College (1913). Ironically, one of the results of this university system was the development and education of an Indian middle class, one that soon grew avid for independence. The founding of the political party known as the Indian National Congress in 1885 marked a milestone on the road to self-rule. The conflicting factions that plagued the Indian National Congress in the early 20th century were unified under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in the 1920s.

Gandhi's vision and prestige brought him to the forefront as the leading advocate of self-rule in India. Drawing inspiration especially from the writings of the Russian Leo Tolstoy and from Henry David Thoreau's celebrated essay "Civil Disobedience," Gandhi fashioned a campaign of passive resistance and civil disobedience that he called satyagraha, from the Sanskrit for "truth and firmness." But Gandhi was more than a theorist; he was also a strategist with a gift for the grand gesture. Probably the most celebrated of his several satyagraha campaigns was the Great Salt March of 1930, in which he walked with a group of followers 240 miles from his home in Ahmedabad to the town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea to protest the British tax on salt. Once they arrived at the coast, he picked up a handful of salty mud and proclaimed "With this I am shaking the foundations of the British empire." The mud was then boiled to produce salt, an act which earned Gandhi a stint in prison. But his principles of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience could not be stopped. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, president of the Indian National Congress, were both sent to prison several times.

Britain's Parliament in 1935 approved the Government of India Act, which called for the formation of autonomous legislative bodies in India's provinces and for the protection of Muslims. However, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah instead called for the formation of a separate Muslim state.

Additional friction between the British and Indian nationalists emerged with the onset of World War II. The Indian National Congress wanted Britain to grant India independence in return for its backing in the war. Indian nationalists in 1940 launched another round of civil disobedience.

In 1944, Gandhi expressed openness to the possible split of India into Muslim and Hindu states. However, efforts to negotiate with Muslim leader Jinnah failed. Additional attempts to reach an independence agreement supported by both Hindus and Muslims failed in 1945 and 1946.

By 1946 the British Labour government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee offered independence to India, but only if the two nationalist groups, the Muslim League and the Congress party, would reconcile their differences. Otherwise, he warned, the British would work out a form of separation. In early 1947, with no agreement at hand, Attlee said the British would pull out of India by June 1948.

Although Muslim-Hindu unity was one of the foundation stones of Gandhi's philosophy, the Indian National Congress in June 1947 unenthusiastically agreed to a plan outlining the establishment of not one, but two, new nations - India, which would be predominantly Hindu, and Pakistan, a majority Muslim state. The new nations came into existence in August 1947. When Hindu-Muslim riots erupted after the partition of India, Gandhi fasted until the conflict ended. Nevertheless, he was assassinated on January 13, 1948, by a Hindu fanatic and the hostilities grew more critical than ever. Adding to the tension, in the months after partition millions of people moved between the two nations, with Hindus and Sikhs leaving Pakistan for India, and Muslims moving to Pakistan.

Kashmir and Other Conflicts

The gravest situation emerged in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north, which was ruled by Hindus but which had a majority Muslim population. It soon turned into a shooting war between the two infant nations, leading to the involvement of the United Nations, which arranged a ceasefire on January 1, 1949 that left about one third of the area under Pakistani control and the rest under Indian control. But the issue of Kashmir was by no means settled and remains a source of friction between Pakistan and India to this day.

India and Pakistan went to war twice more after 1949. In 1965 fighting broke out in the border region known as the Rann of Kachchh. The conflict spread to Kashmir and to the Punjab, and before Pakistan and India agreed to a U.N.-sponsored ceasefire, the two countries were bombing each other. In 1971, civil war broke out in Pakistan when East Pakistanis (the country was divided into two noncontiguous parts) sought greater autonomy. Millions of East Pakistanis, mostly Hindu, fled to India, Pakistani planes attacked Indian airfields in Kashmir, and India assaulted both East and West Pakistan. After India occupied East Pakistan, that region became the independent nation of Bangladesh and again a U.N. ceasefire was arranged.

In May 1974, India set off its first nuclear device . Although the government said it had "no intention of producing nuclear weapons," the prime minister of Pakistan charged India with "brandishing the sword of nuclear blackmail." Pakistan had been conducting nuclear research since 1965, and by 1987, Pakistan's president, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, said in a magazine interview, "Pakistan has the capability of building the bomb. You can write today that Pakistan can build a bomb whenever it wishes." India conducted its first underground nuclear tests in May 1998, and Pakistan quickly matched its rival by conducting its own underground tests, as the country's prime minister proudly said that Pakistan had "evened the score with India." The scenario of feuding South Asian nuclear powers became even more frightening when it recently became known that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, had improperly shared nuclear weapons technology with companies or individuals in at least seven other countries.

The India-Pakistan arms race reached a higher level on April 11, 1999, when India conducted a test launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Pakistan promptly responded by test-firing two missiles that also were able to carry nuclear warheads. At the end of the following month, India launched air strikes against Islamic militants' encamped in an Indian-controlled area of the disputed Kashmir region. Although Pakistan denied it, it was India's contention that Pakistan was giving Kashmiri militants military and financial help. This time, however, full-scale war did not break out. The leaders of the two countries agreed to discuss and defuse the situation, and so far the two nations have maintained an edgy peace. In 2005, India and Pakistan agreed on measures to create a "soft border" in Kashmir open to trade and transport and promised to work on plans for a joint natural gas pipeline.

Relations with the U.S.

The tensions between India and Pakistan confronted the U.S. with a delicate situation, as it often seem to be forced into making a painful choice between the two sides. During the Cold War, India refused to take sides, which displeased the U.S. The Soviet Union, however, established friendly relations with India, leading to an alliance. Pakistan consequently drew closer to the U.S. This situation lasted for decades, although the U.S. censured both nations for failing to ratify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which was intended to block the proliferation of nuclear weapons and eventually attain global nuclear disarmament. In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton traveled to India, a visit that did a great deal to better relations between the two nations. The administration of President George W. Bush followed up on that breakthrough, so that today relations between the U.S. and India are as cordial as they have ever been. Indeed, on July 27, 2007, the U.S. and India announced that they had reached agreement on nuclear cooperation. Under the deal, which requires congressional approval to go forward, India would be able to access U.S. nuclear technology and fuel.

The close ties between the U.S. and Pakistan can be said to have begun at least as early as the meeting in 1950 of U.S. President Harry Truman and Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali. In the 1980s the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan sought Pakistan's help in driving the Soviet military out of Afghanistan, where the Soviets were backing a Communist government. The ties between the U.S. and Pakistan became much more central to U.S. foreign policy after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan. Pakistan now became a crucial ally in the war on terror, and the U.S. welcomed the actions of its president, General Pervez Musharraf, who cooperated with the U.S. military and permitted Pakistan to serve as a military base for U.S. forces during the invasion of Afghanistan. The Bush administration continues to support Musharraf, although critics charge that the terrorist group Al Qaeda, which was responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks, has reconstituted itself in the wild tribal regions of western Pakistan and that the Pakistani leader is doing little to uproot it.

Economic Progress

During the first decades of its independence, India's government followed a centralized planning economic model that its chief architect, Nehru, who was prime minister from 1947 to 1964, envisioned as a third way that drew on the best aspects of the capitalist and Communist systems. Although this model initially kept the economy relatively stable, it eventually led to stagnation, inflation, a deterioration in the country's balance of payments, and deficit financing. However, P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was prime minister from 1991 to 1996, instituted a series of free-market reforms that reduced the government's role in the economy and welcomed foreign investment. When Rao entered office, India had a gross national product of only about $300 per capita, but from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, annual economic growth averaged more than 7%, and by 2005 the gross national product was an estimated $3.6 trillion, which amounted to about $3,300 per capita, while poverty decreased 10%. In 2006, India achieved an impressive growth rate of 8.5%. One of the legacies of Great Britain that most Indians agree was a benefit was the English language. A large workforce comfortable with speaking English has fostered the development of computer software services, which have became increasingly important to the Indian economy. The city of Bangalore Bangalore, or Bengaluru, has become known as the Silicon Valley of India.

Pakistan has not, perhaps, achieved the status of India as an international economic wonder, but the last five years have seen substantial economic progress. Like India's, Pakistan's economic policy has recently focused on free-market liberalization and attracting foreign direct investment. The banking sector has been privatized, poverty levels have dropped by 10% since 2001, development spending has increased, and growth has been in the range of from 6% to 8%, while per capita income has reached approximately $2,700. The lessening of tensions with India has also improved the economic outlook by reducing security issues and by improving prospects of increased trade in South Asia.

Both nations still face serious challenges, among them growing populations, sectarian strife, widening trade deficits, and worries about inflation, which is a habitual accompaniment to rapid economic growth. But as they reach the age of 60 (which is young for a country), India and Pakistan can feel proud of how far they have come and be cautiously optimistic about the decades ahead.

Did You Know?

The largest U.S. city by area is Sitka, AK.

Chronology — Events of July 2007


     Obama Leads in Fund-Raising for Presidential Campaign - Sen. Barack Obama (D, IL) reported July 1 that he had raised $32.5 mil for his presidential campaign during the second quarter of 2007. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY) reported raising $27 mil in the same period. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led the Republican aspirants, raising $17 mil. Former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) raised $14 million but personally lent $6.5 million to his campaign. In all, the Democratic contenders raised $80 mil in the quarter, compared with $50 mil for those seeking the GOP nomination. With more than 258,000 donors so far in 2007, Obama had by far the broadest base of financial support.
     After raising $11 million for 2008, Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) was forced to dismiss two-thirds of his staff including some top advisers. Terry Nelson, his campaign manager, and John Weaver, his chief strategist, resigned July 10. On July 14, former Gov. Jim Gilmore (VA) withdrew from the Republican field, as a result of low fundraising success.
     Eight Democratic candidates debated in Charleston, SC, July 23. The questions were chosen from 3,000 videos posted by the public on the website YouTube.

     Bush Commutes Sentence in CIA Leak Case - On July 2, Pres. George W. Bush commuted the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice Pres. Richard Cheney, who had been convicted in March of perjury and obstruction of justice during the investigation into who leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Earlier on July 2, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel had ruled that Libby must begin his prison sentence while he appealed his conviction. Bush, in commuting the sentence, said he respected the jury’s verdict but that 30 months was "excessive". Bush let stand Libby’s $250,000 fine.


U.S. Senate

Sen. Pete Domenici

     Iraq Debate in Congress Heats Up - Democrats in Congress, supported by some Republicans, intensified their efforts to change the course of American policy in Iraq. Sen. Pete Domenici (R, NM) July 5 broke with the Bush administration, calling for a change in strategy that could put troops "on the path to coming home."
     Senate critics of the war, led by Jim Webb (D, VA), on July 11 fell 4 votes short of the 60 required to move a Defense Dept. authorization bill amendment to final vote. The amendment would have required that U.S. troops be assigned at home at least as long as their previous tour of duty in Iraq. Pres. Bush promised to veto the bill if Webb’s amendment passed, but seven Republicans joined 49 Democrats in support of the amendment. The House voted July 12, 223-201 (with 4 Republicans in support and 10 Democrats in opposition), to require a U.S. withdrawal by Apr. 1, 2008. After an all-night marathon session July 17-18, the Senate voted, 52-47, to end debate on a similar measure - once again short of the required 60.
     The White House and Capitol Hill were closely following Iraq’s progress in achieving 18 benchmarks (as established by Congress) being used to measure success. A National Security Council interim report, issued July 12, reported satisfactory progress in 8 areas - mostly military-related - and unsatisfactory results in 8 areas - mostly political goals.

     Appeals Court Panel Backs Bush on Warrantless Wiretaps - A suit challenging the legality of Pres. Bush’s warrantless wiretap program was dismissed July 6 by a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. A district judge in 2006 had declared the program to be illegal and unconstitutional. The panel found, in a 2-1 ruling, that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that they had suffered injury from the program.

     Bush Tells Former Aides to Reject Congressional Subpoenas - White House counsel Fred Fielding notified the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees July 9 that Pres. Bush had told two former aides not to respond to subpoenas. The committees had sought testimony by former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor, concerning their role, if any, in the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006. Bush claimed executive privilege, asserting that he must have candid advice from his advisers that would not later become public.
     However, Taylor did appear before the Senate committee July 11, denying any involvement in firing the attorneys and saying that she had not spoken to Bush about the matter. She declined to answer questions that she believed conflicted with Bush’s order. Miers declined to appear before the House committee July 12. The committee, July 25, approved, 22-17, a resolution finding Miers and Joshua Bolton, the White House Chief of Staff, in statutory contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with it.

     Senator Admits His Number Was on List of ‘D.C. Madam’ - Sen. David Vitter (R, LA) issued a statement July 9 confessing to a "very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible." He admitted that his phone number was on the list made public by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who ran an escort service and was indicted on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Vitter’s statement went on, "I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling." Vitter, a conservative, was known for his advocacy of moral and pro-family values. A reporter for Hustler magazine had found Vitter’s number.


Department of Homeland Security

Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security

     New Concerns Raised About an Attack on U.S. - Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security, told the Chicago Tribune July 10 that he had a "gut feeling" that the United States faced a rising chance of a terror attack during the summer. The U.S. government July 17 released a short unclassified summary of the latest National Intelligence Estimate, representing a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies. It warned that the U.S. faced "a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years." It also reported that al-Qaeda" is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat" and that the 2006 cease-fire between the government of Pres. Pervez Musharraf and tribal leaders in northwest Pakistan had allowed al-Qaeda to rebuild.

     L.A. Archdiocese Agrees to $660 Mil Sexual Abuse Settlement - Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, announced a settlement July 15 with 508 people who claimed they had been abused by members of the clergy. The $660 mil payout was the highest made by any diocese that had been caught up in the nationwide abuse scandal. As of July 2007, the L.A. archdiocese, its insurers, and affiliated religious orders had already paid more than $114 mil to settle 86 previous abuse settlements. An L.A. Superior Court judge approved the new settlement July 16. Allegations dated back as far as the 1940s.

     Bush Sets Guidelines for Interrogation - Pres. Bush issued an executive order July 20 that set guidelines for CIA interrogations of terror suspects. The new order was a direct response to a June 2006 Supreme Court ruling that prisoners must be held in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The order required that prisoners receive "the basic necessities of life." It barred cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as sexual humiliation and the denigrating of a detainee’s religion. It did not address specific interrogation techniques such as waterboarding or sleep deprivation.

     Senators Rebuke Gonzales During His Testimony - Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales received harsh criticism July 24 during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss Justice Dept. activities related to Pres. Bush’s warrantless wiretap program and to the controversial dismissal of eight federal prosecutors in 2006. In opening statements, chairman Patrick Leahy (D, VT) bluntly told Gonzales, "I don't trust you."
     Gonzales denied that in March 2004, as White House Counsel, he had pressured then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on a controversial NSA warrantless wiretap program while Ashcroft was sedated and recovering from surgery. Sen. Arlen Specter (R, PA) said he did not find Gonzales’ testimony credible. Gonzales denied that a White House meeting earlier that day dealt with the program, contradicting the recollections of meeting attendees including Congress members, then-National Intelligence Dir. John Negroponte, and then-deputy Atty. Gen. James Comey. Sen. Arlen Specter (R, PA) said he did not find Gonzales’ testimony credible. FBI Dir. Robert Mueller confirmed Comey’s account on July 26.
     Also on July 26, four Democratic Senators (Charles Schumer, NY; Dianne Feinstein, CA; Russ Feingold, WI; and Sheldon Whitehouse, RI) asked U.S. Solicitor Gen. Paul Clement to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether Gonzales may have committed perjury in congressional testimony.

     Federal Agents Investigate Alaska Senator’s Home - On July 30 FBI and IRS agents photographed, videotaped, and removed items from the Girdwood, AK home of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who is under investigation for his relationship with oil field contractor Bill Allen, convicted earlier in 2007 of bribing state lawmakers. Allen oversaw a 2000 renovation project on Stevens’ home. Stevens has not been charged.

     Chief Justice Recovering After Seizure -Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was hospitalized after suffering a seizure July 30, but had "fully recovered" within a day, according to a Supreme Court spokesperson. Roberts had experienced a similar seizure in 1993.


     Doctors Arrested in British Terror Plots - On June 30 and July 1, British authorities arrested 6 male doctors in connection with the attempted bombing in London and the bombing at Glasgow Airport in late June. One doctor’s wife was arrested and released. All of the men, who were from the Middle East or India, worked for Britain’s National Health Service. Two were subsequently released. The passenger in the SUV driven into the Glasgow airport terminal entrance, Bilal Abdulla, a British-born Iraqi, was charged July 7 with conspiring to cause explosions. The driver, an Indian engineer named Kafeel Ahmed, remained hospitalized for severe burns. His brother Sabeel was charged July 14 with having information that could have prevented a terrorist act by another person. Mohammed Asha, a Saudi, was charged July 19 with conspiring to cause explosions.
     A male Indian doctor (a second cousin of Ahmed) was arrested in Brisbane, Australia, July 2, in connection with the plot but charges were dropped July 27.

     Decline Reported in U.S. Military and Civilian Deaths in Iraq - The U.S. military reported July 1 that 101 U.S. military personnel were killed in Iraq in June, a decline from 126 in May. Iraqi officials said July 1 that 1,227 civilians had died in June in sectarian and insurgent violence, down from 1,949 in May.
     U.S. Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said July 2 that the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was training Iraqi Shiite militants at 3 camps near Tehran, the capital of Iran and using Hezbollah as a proxy to train in Iraq. He said that the Quds Force gave money and armor-piercing explosives to the fighters. He also said that Iranian agents helped plan a January raid at Karbala by a rogue Mahdi Army cell in which 5 US. Soldiers were killed. U.S., Iraqi, and Iranian diplomats agreed to set up a security subcommittee for Iraq during a meeting in Baghdad July 24. Iraq’s parliament entered summer recess on July 30.
     In one of the worst incidents of the war, a truck bomb July 7 in Amerli, a Shiite Turkmen village in northern Iraq, killed about 150 and wounded 240. July 8, in Haswa, west of Baghdad, a truck bomber struck another truck carrying Iraqi army recruits, killing 23. A truck bombing July 16 outside the headquarters of Pres. Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and 2 smaller explosions killed more than 80 and wounded 180 in Kirkuk. Also July 16, men dressed as Iraqi soldiers killed 29 civilians in Dulayiya, a Shiite town in Diyala province. A truck bomber July 24 killed at least 24 and wounded 69 in Hillah.
     About 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops moved into the Euphrates River valley 20 miles south of Baghdad July 16 to target suspected al-Qaeda strongholds in Operation Marne Avalanche. The celebration of the Iraqi soccer team’s victory in a semifinal match of the Asian Cup tournament was marred July 25 when explosions in Baghdad killed at least 50. Iraq defeated Saudi Arabia, 1-0, in Jakarta, Indonesia, to win the championship on July 29.

     Violent Deaths Rising in Afghanistan - Afghan officials said July 1 that NATO air strikes killed 45 civilians and 62 Taliban in Helmand province June 29-30. The Associated Press reported July 1 that attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose 83% in 2007 while suicide bombings had doubled. A roadside bomb killed 6 Canadian soldiers and their interpreter in Kandahar province July 4. U.S. officials said July 26 that 160 insurgents had been killed in 5 days in Helmand province. Two NATO troops and 4 U.S. soldiers died in attacks July 23.
     Taliban militants seized 23 South Korean Presbyterians on a relief mission July 17 as they traveled from Kabul to Kandahar. The militants demanded the release of Taliban prisoners. A pastor, the group’s leader, was found dead July 25. A second hostage was killed July 30. King Mohammad Zahir Shah, who ruled Afghanistan 1933-1973, died July 23 in Kabul at age 92. He had been the ceremonial "father of the nation" since 2002.


White House Photo by Eric Draper

President George W. Bush stands with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Putin's arrival at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, Maine, Sunday, July 1, 2007.

     Bush, Putin Discuss U.S. Antimissile Facilities - Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Vladimir Putin of Russia discussed missile defense July 1-2 at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, ME. Putin opposed Bush’s plans to base U.S. antimissile facilities in the Czech Republic and Poland. He renewed his support for a Russian-U.S. joint system in Azerbaijan and southern Russia. On July 14, Russia suspended participation in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which restricted deployment of such forces in Europe, calling it "hopelessly outmoded." Russia said that after 150 days it would not permit NATO to inspect its military installations as provided for by the treaty. Putin said July 25 that Russia would expand its spy network.

      After Battle at a Mosque, Violence Spreads in Pakistan - A three-month standoff at the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, ended July 11 in a bloody raid by Pakistan’s army. Chief Cleric Maulana Muhammad Abdul Aziz had advocated that Islamabad adopt sharia, or Islamic law, and set up a court at the mosque in April. On July 3, fighting between police and students killed nine people. As more than a thousand students fled, negotiations intensified. Aziz was arrested on July 4 while escaping disguised in a woman’s burqa. On July 10, commandos stormed the mosque, killing the last of the defenders on July 11. In all, at least 100 were killed in the struggle, including 11 government soldiers.
     On July 15, pro-Taliban chiefs in the North Waziristan region renounced an agreement with the government to keep out non-Pakistani militants.
     Violence increased across Pakistan after the mosque raid. A suicide bomber killed 24 paramilitary soldiers July 14 in a convoy in North Waziristan. Two suicide attacks in the North-West Frontier Province July 15 killed 42 and injured 110. An ambush killed 17 soldiers in North Waziristan July 18. A bomb killed 17 at a political rally in Islamabad July 17. In southern Afghanistan Pakistan’s Supreme Court July 20 rebuffed Musharraf by reinstating Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, whom the president had dismissed for alleged abuses of his office.

     BBC Reporter Freed in Gaza Strip - After 114 days in captivity in the Gaza Strip, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was freed by the Army of Islam July 4. The militant Muslim group had received pressure from Hamas to free Johnston since mid-June when it seized Gaza.

     4 Convicted in 2005 London Bombing Attempts - Four African immigrants and would-be suicide bombers (Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Hassin Omar, Hussein Osman, and Ramzi Mohammed) were convicted July 9 for conspiracy to murder. On July 21, 2005 in London, they carried homemade bombs in backpacks onto trains and a bus, but the explosives failed to detonate. A judge July 11 sentenced them to life in prison. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on 2 other men linked to the plot. Prosecutors said they would retry them.

     North Korea Closes Nuclear Reactor - North Korea July 14 announced that it had closed its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and allowed international nuclear inspectors into the country in exchange for 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, the first step in implementing a February agreement with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A meeting between the nations’ envoys July 18-20 failed to establish a timetable for ending N. Korea’s nuclear program. International Atomic Energy Agency experts confirmed Yongbyon’s closure and the closure of four other nuclear plants July 18.

     Turkey’s Ruling Party Increases Its Majority - The moderate Islamic party governing Turkey increased its majority in parliament in the July 22 national elections, receiving the largest share of votes (47%) for any party since 1965. The Justice and Development Party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been modernizing the economy as part of an effort to gain membership in the European Union. The nation has experienced its longest stretch of economic growth, although unemployment has stood at 10%. Secular groups including the military remained suspicious that his party would move toward Islamic rule.

     Historic Loss in Japan’s Upper House - The Liberal Democratic Party of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lost its majority in the upper house for the first time since 1955 in elections July 29. Most seats were lost in rural areas, the party’s traditional base. The party still controls the lower house. Abe said he would not resign.

     Russian, UK Diplomats Expelled in Lugovoi Extradition Battle - The United Kingdom expelled four Russian diplomats July 27, after Russian authorities failed to hand over Andrei Lugovoi to face murder charges in the UK. Russia responded by expelling four UK embassy staff. Lugovoi is suspected of poisoning ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died of exposure to the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in November 2006.


     Federer Takes 5th Straight Wimbledon Singles Crown - Roger Federer of Switzerland won his 5th straight Wimbledon men’s tennis singles championship in England on July 8. He defeated Rafael Nadal of Spain, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2. Federer became the second player, in addition to Bjorn Borg, to win the men’s Wimbledon title 5 years in a row. In a big comeback, Venus Williams of the United States won the women’s title July 7, defeating Marion Bartoli of France, 6-4, 6-1. In winning the women’s title for the 4th time, Williams became the lowest seed (23rd) ever to prevail.

     NFL Quarterback Michael Vick Indicted - Michael Vick, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, was indicted July 17 on federal charges relating to his alleged involvement in running an interstate dog-fighting operation on property he owned in Surry County, VA. Prosecutors said pit bulls were trained to fight each other, and losing or underperforming animals were killed by members of the dogfighting ring. Vick pleaded not guilty July 26 in U.S. District Court in Virginia. In a plea agreement made July 30, co-defendant Tony Taylor said Vick supplied money for the operation.

     Dow Jones Average Closes Above 14,000 - On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average reached another milestone July 19 when it closed at 14,000.41, just 59 trading days after passing 13,000. Strong technology profits had propelled the recent surge in stock prices, but the Dow dropped to 13,265.47 by the following week’s end.

     Last Harry Potter Book Sets 1-Day Sales Record - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the 7th and final novel in J.K. Rowling’s series about a student wizard, was released July 21. The U.S. publisher, Scholastic Inc., said that U.S. sales in the first 24 hours totaled 8.3 million copies, an all-time one-day record.

     Harrington Wins British Open - Padraig Harrington of Ireland won golf’s British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland, July 22. After tying Spain’s Sergio Garcia at 277, Harrington won by one stroke in a 4-hole playoff.

     Tour de France Marred by More Drug Scandals - Spain’s Aberto Contador, riding for the Discovery Channel team, won the Tour de France July 29, beating out Australian rider Cadel Evans by only 23 seconds. Yet the tour continued to be plagued by drug scandals. After the close of the race, Contador’s countryman Iban Mayo tested positive for a banned substance, the third rider of the 2007 Tour to do so. On July 26, Michael Rasmussen of the Netherlands, then leading the race, was removed from competition by his Rabobank team on suspicion of drug use. Two teams enveloped in scandal had previously withdrawn due to blood-doping violations: Astana, led by Alexander Vinokourov, and Cofidis, led by Cristian Moreni.

     2014 Winter Olympics in Russia - International Olympic Committee members voted July 4 to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia. The Black Sea resort town beat PyeongChang, S. Korea by four votes. It will be Russia’s first Winter Olympic games.

Science in the News: Life Is So Unfair: Birth Order and IQ — Amy Perry

Older siblings looking for a new way to enrage a younger sister or brother should be sure to check out two scientific studies recently published in the journals Science and Intelligence. The studies, conducted by researchers in Oslo, Norway, suggest that, on average, first-born children have higher IQs than their younger siblings.

While probably not the last word in the long-standing debate about how birth order influences children's intelligence, the new research is regarded by many experts as a breakthrough in its field. (Whether or not those experts are all first-born children is anybody's guess.)

A Brief History of Sibling Rivalry


Sir Francis Galton

The theory that first-born children tend to be smarter than their siblings is not new. In 1874, Sir Francis Galton proposed the idea to explain why nearly half of the scientists featured in his book English Men of Science were their families' eldest or only sons. Since Galton's time, many other groups of high achievers have been found to consist of abnormally high numbers of first-born children. For example, the percentage of Nobel Prize winners who are first-borns (a group that includes Albert Einstein) is considerably higher than the percentage of first-borns in the general population.

However, such details don't necessarily prove anything about birth order and intelligence. They could simply indicate that older children receive more educational opportunities than their younger siblings do, and are therefore better prepared to make noteworthy intellectual breakthroughs. Or, perhaps first-born children are more attracted than their younger sisters and brothers are to fields where they can be recognized for their work.

In addition, while many studies have been conducted on the possible link between birth order and intelligence, most of these studies have yielded contradictory and puzzling results. Moreover, critics have claimed that much of the research in this area is fundamentally flawed because it relies on comparisons between children of different families - not on comparisons between children from the same family. The problem with this method, critics say, is that it evaluates not only the effects of birth order on children, but also the effects of different family environments; hence, it's impossible to identify what is actually causing the measured differences in intelligence.

Big Sis Really Is a Know-It-All

Now, however, it looks like older siblings can finally brag with legitimacy, thanks to two new studies by epidemiologists Petter Kristensen of the University of Oslo and Tor Bjerkedal of the Norwegian Armed Forces Medical Services. Not only do these studies offer strong evidence suggesting that older siblings are, on average, smarter than younger ones, but they also appear to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued previous research in this field.

To conduct both of their studies, Kristensen and Bjerkedal analyzed data taken from the Norwegian military's medical records. In Norway, military service is mandatory for adult males; therefore, the scientists had access to data on birth order and IQ for hundreds of thousands of individuals. (IQ, which stands for "intelligence quotient," is a measure of intelligence derived from any one of a number of different tests.) The large "sample size," or size of the group being studied, in Kristensen and Bjerkedal's research helped to ensure that the scientists' results were accurate.

Kristensen and Bjerkedal's first goal was to analyze the records of 112,799 men to find the average IQ scores for three different groups: the men who were the oldest siblings in their families, those who were middle siblings, and those who were youngest. The researchers, familiar with the criticisms of other existing studies on this topic, wanted to avoid the problems associated with comparing people from different family backgrounds. So, before averaging the IQ scores, Kristensen and Bjerkedal first made adjustments to each individual's IQ score based on his parents' education level, his mother's age at birth, and the size of his family - all aspects of the family environment that are thought to influence IQ. In doing so, the researchers attempted to "level the playing field" so that any IQ differences that appeared would be due to birth order and nothing else.

Once Bjerkedal and Kristensen had adjusted the IQ scores, they determined each group's average score. The average IQ for eldest siblings was the highest, 103.2. The average score for middle siblings was about 3 points lower, 100.3, and the youngest sibling average - 99.0 - was about 4 points lower.

Clearly, the data seemed to confirm the theory that first-born children have higher IQs. However, Bjerkedal and Kristensen weren't satisfied. They wanted to verify that their results were accurate, and that their IQ adjustments had successfully eliminated the problems associated with differences between families. So, they retrieved the medical records of 63,951 pairs of brothers, determined the IQ difference between the brothers in each pair, and then averaged the data. Their results were the same as their first results. This indicated not only that Bjerkedal and Kristensen's initial findings were correct, but also that the scientists had hit upon an accurate method of comparing different families.

It's All in the Family

Bjerkedal and Kristensen's next step was to try to find out what causes older siblings to have higher IQs than their younger sisters and brothers do. One hypothesis that had been previously suggested is that family interactions contribute to differences in intelligence among children. According to this hypothesis, children of different birth-orders play different roles in the family and - for whatever reason - the roles played by older siblings lead to greater intellectual development than those played by younger ones.

A contrasting view holds that biological factors, not family interactions, cause differences in intelligence. Some scientists believe that antibodies produced by a woman's body during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the development of the fetus. (Antibodies are molecules that the body produces in order to fight off disease and other foreign substances.) Because women produce more of these antibodies with each successive pregnancy, younger siblings are more strongly affected - at least according to this hypothesis.

To test the likelihood of these two opposing explanations, the researchers analyzed the IQ scores of men whose family position changed because of the death of a sibling. For example, if a child is born second in a family, but the first-born child in that family dies, the second-born child becomes first in terms of that family's social rank.

Bjerkedal and Kristensen hypothesized that if biological factors were responsible for the relationship between birth order and intelligence, there would be a difference between the IQ scores of biological first-born children and of children socially ranked as oldest after the death of a first-born child. On the other hand, if family interactions were causing older siblings to be smarter, the scores for all children with older-children social status would be similar - regardless of biological birth order.

The results came out strongly in favor of the family interaction hypothesis. As the researchers explain in their Science study, "[Individuals] of first rank in social terms, no matter their biological rank, scored equal to firstborn men . . . . Men of birth order three who grew up as the second eldest child had IQ scores close to those of secondborns with no elder sibling loss."

Want to Get Smarter? Teach Someone Else.



Research suggests that family interactions contribute to IQ differences among siblings, more specifically, the "tutoring effect" - the act of teaching that encourages the tutor to organize his or her thoughts and to find a way to express them.

While Bjerkedal and Kristensen's research suggests that family interactions contribute to IQ differences among siblings, it does not explain why these interactions have such an effect. Fortunately (at least for younger sisters and brothers who desperately want to learn how to outsmart their older siblings), an article published alongside the Science study offers a convincing explanation. In the article, Frank J. Sulloway - a professor at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley - points to the idea of the "tutoring effect," which "kicks in as older siblings begin to teach what they know to their younger brothers and sisters."

According to the "tutoring effect" hypothesis, the act of teaching actually benefits the tutor more than it does the learner, because it encourages the tutor to organize his or her thoughts and to find a way to express them. (If you've ever tried to explain something complex to someone else, this effect may seem familiar; you may have found that, after giving your lesson, you understood the subject better than you did at first.) As Robert Zajonc, the psychologist responsible for first describing the tutoring effect, told the New York Times, "Explaining something to a younger sibling solidifies your knowledge and allows you to grow more extensively. The younger one is asking questions, and challenging meanings and explanations, and that will contribute to the intellectual opportunity of the older one."

The "tutoring effect" hypothesis also serves to explain another piece of the puzzle involving siblings and intelligence. While Bjerkedal and Kristensen's work demonstrates that, as adults, older siblings tend to have higher IQs than their younger siblings, other studies have shown that - under the age of 12 - the reverse is typically the case. Psychologists think that younger siblings initially get a head start in intellectual development because they are surrounded by people who are older and more intellectually advanced than they are; therefore, they are constantly stimulated by new mental challenges. Meanwhile, older siblings are often deprived of intellectual stimulation because they live in environments "dumbed down" by the presence of younger siblings. For example, if a mother is giving instructions to all her children at once, she will use only the most basic vocabulary, so that all of her children - even the youngest of them - will understand.

However, once a younger sibling reaches an age at which she can be taught by an older sibling, the tutoring effect begins to take over. According to Sulloway, that's what allows older siblings to finally get ahead.

Don't Take It to Heart


Library of Congress

Just take a look at the accomplishments of famous younger siblings such as Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison.

Before all of you oldest siblings get too cocky - and you younger ones start planning your revenge - it is important to take note of a number of important points regarding these studies.

First, the fact that older siblings' IQs scores are higher, on average, than those of younger siblings does not mean that this is true of all families; it only exists in enough families to produce the given averages. So, if your sister or brother tries to argue - incorrectly - that Bjerkedal and Kristensen's work proves something about your own family, you know you're at least smarter than that sibling.

Second, while Bjerkedal and Kristensen's studies were quite large, they were conducted only on Norwegian men. It is possible that family interactions differ in other countries or among families with female children, and that these differences produce different outcomes in terms of birth order and intelligence. More research is needed to determine whether Bjerkedal and Kristensen's findings apply to all types of families.

Third, if the tutoring effect is in fact responsible for IQ differences between siblings, then younger siblings simply need to teach other people in order to derive their own benefits from this effect. "Given the evidence we have on this, I would as a parent encourage late-born siblings to take on teaching roles," is what Paul Trapnell, a psychologist at the University of Winnipeg, told the New York Times.

Finally, even if younger children do tend to have slightly lower IQs than their siblings, this does not necessarily put them at a disadvantage. Just take a look at the accomplishments of famous younger siblings such as Charles Darwin, Nicolaus Copernicus, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Marie Curie, Immanuel Kant, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison - to name a few. These individuals may have actually benefited from their position in the family, given that younger siblings often develop unique skills and interests in order to distinguish themselves from their older brothers and sisters. As Sulloway explained to ABC News, "Younger siblings may have three points of something else that doesn't show up in an IQ test."

Did You Know?

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is important in the regulation of the central nervous system and in protein metabolism. Best sources are whole grains, meats, fish, poultry, nuts, and brewers' yeast.

Offbeat News Stories — Sarah Janssen

See Sarko Run
French President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in May after running a hard-fought, successful campaign against Ségolène Royal. But as president he’s enduring mudslinging for a different sort of running. Sarkozy is being taken to task for jogging, often and in public, much of the time wearing an NYPD T-shirt. According to many French critics, jogging is a habit for self-centered individualists, not great leaders.

Its perceived American origins aren’t any help either. Boris Johnson, an avid jogger and member of the British parliament, paraphrased the French criticism: "A sad imitation of the habits of American presidents...as bad as the influx of Hollywood movies." Sports sociologist Patrick Mignon sourced the criticism in the French intellectual tradition, which eschews sports, and noted the tendency for fascist regimes to place heavy emphasis on physical fitness.

Meanwhile, renowned philosopher Alain Finkelkraut went on national television to urge Sarkozy to give up the habit, suggesting that he learn to enjoy the more meditative pursuit of walking, as Socrates, Rimbaud, Mitterand, and other revered men famously have. And a headline in Libération, a left-wing newspaper, asked "Is jogging right-wing?"

Even Sarkozy’s technique is criticized: noted coach Renaud Longuèvre said that the President’s stride is off and that his feet hit the ground the wrong way, in addition to hinting he would tell Sarkozy to "check your diet because it seems you are carrying a slight excess in weight."

Innovative Recycling: Panda Poop
Unfortunately, "They Went on Vacation and All I Got Was a Souvenir Made Out of Panda Poop" isn’t exactly a catchy T-shirt slogan. But with a little editing, the gift shop at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base in China might consider selling a similar T-shirt - next to their shelves of souvenirs made from the feces of the world’s most beloved endangered species. According to the state media and base officials, plans call for a line of ‘odor-free’ souvenirs, such as bookmarks, picture frames, and Olympic-themed panda statues.

According to the base director’s assistant, Jing Shimin, "They don’t smell too bad because 70 percent of the dung is just remains of the bamboo that the pandas are unable to digest." Another official reported that the excrement is "carefully selected, smashed, dried, and sterilized." The base will save about $770 a month that they used to spend on waste removal, and hope to develop a lucrative product.

A more expensive line will also feature souvenirs containing panda hair, collected from the wild.

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


Long after my 1974 World Almanac had fallen apart from being opened so many times, one section survived - Noted Personalities. This has always been my favorite section of the book, and this year it's my genuine pleasure to be editing it for the first time. I have been reviewing every name in the "Entertainment Personalities of the Present and Past" and clearing out some of the "less famous" to make room for new ones, as well as moving the dead over. Not to brag (it's just my interest), but I'd say I know 95% of the people, and I thought I'd offer up websites on some of the people who might not be as well known anymore. Maude Adams (1872-1953) was an American actress who first appeared in The Midnight Bell in New York City in 1888, and then spent three years with the Charles Frohman acting company. In 1892 Frohman signed John Drew Jr. - the first gentleman of the stage - and Maude as his leading lady. They starred together in The Little Minister (1896) by Sir James Matthew Barrie, and from 1905-1907, she played the title role in Barrie's Peter Pan, probably her most popular performance. She was considered one of the great actresses of the 1900s...The 1925 silent film Ben Hur, directed by Fred Niblo, starred Ramon Novarro (1899-1868) and Francis X. Bushman. Born José Ramón Gil Samaniego in Durango, Mexico, Novarro moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. He was a cousin of actress Dolores del Río. Prior to arriving in Hollywood, Novarro took odd jobs which including teaching piano, and singing. He became the leading Latin lover after the death of Rudolph Valentino in 1926, but his career was all but over by the mid 1930s. Until his brutal murder in 1968, he had bit roles in B-movies and television...For me, the only time I've ever seen Anna Q. Nilsson (1888-1974) in a movie, is her non-speaking role - as herself - as one of the bridge players ("wax works") in the 1950 Gloria Swanson classic, Sunset Boulevard. Born in Sweden, Nilsson came to the United States and started out modeling. Her illustration as the original "Penrhyn Stanlaws Girl" led Anna to be hired as the leading actress of the film Molly Pitcher in 1911. Working into the 1920s, she suffered a setback when an accident in 1925, partially paralyzed her for a year. Her comeback was short lived with the advent of sound movies, at which time she played bit roles, the remainder of her career...I once answered an ad for a trivia expert, and in my cover letter I stated that I knew personalities from Abigail Adams to Adolph Zukor (1873-1976). Zukor, born in Hungary, came to the United States to seek his fortune, and started as a sweeper in a fur store. Within a few years he was running his own store. In 1903 he purchased an amusement arcade, and within two years purchased a chain of them with Marcus Loew. They purchased the U.S. rights to the first full length film, Queen Elizabeth (1912), starring Sarah Bernhardt. The success of this venture helped Zukor found Famous Players Production Company, the forerunner of Paramount Pictures, which he ran until 1935. Until his death at the age of 103, Zukor remained Chairman of the Board of Paramount.

Have you ever updated a version of software on your computer and then wanted the older version back? OldVersion.com is a non-profit organization that does just that, it provides old versions of different programs.


(c) Edward A. Thomas

The Colosseum

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are usually listed as The Great Pyramids at Giza; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon; The Statue of Zeus at Olympia; The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; The Colossus of Rhodes; and The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The pyramids are the only Wonder that remain. Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber and his foundation New7Wonders began a campaign to pick seven new wonders in 1999. Two hundred nominations came in from around the world, and the list was narrowed to 21 last year. The final results were announced on July 7, 2007, and the "New Seven Wonders" are Brazil's Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid, the Great Wall of China, Jordan's Petra, the Colosseum in Rome, and India's Taj Mahal. New7Wonders has now launched a campaign for nominations for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Alan Joyce, the Editor of The World Almanac sent me a cool link today with some very creative Timelines. Subject matter range from Darfur: Timeline of the crisis, through The History of Poker, to The Life of Paris Hilton.


Troll dolls

While Shirley Temple dolls may have been the rage when my mother was a child, the early 1960s found kids collecting a new type of doll - Trolls! Created in the 1950s by Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam, the troll dolls were based upon mythical creatures from Norse mythology. First made of wood, and later introduced in vinyl, these ugly dolls became a sensation in the United States. Popularity died down in the 1970s and 80s, but they reemerged for a new generation in the 1990s.

I took a day off last week and headed out to the beach, to Sandy Hook, the first beach you can reach in New Jersey, which is also a national park - it was the site of seacoast fortifications during the 19th and 20th century, and the site of Fort Hancock the nation's first artillery proving ground. We grew up going to the Jersey shore as kids, and although I don't get to the beach often, it's something I enjoy doing. However, although I had 30 SPF sunscreen on, I didn't apply it as often as I should have and much to my embarrassment (I should be smarter than this), I came home with a sunburn on my back. I'm going to be much more careful the next time I head out!

I am currently reading Lee and Bob Woodruff's book, "In An Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing." In January 2006, Bob Woodruff was named co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, and seemed on top of the world, but the euphoria of that announcement abruptly ended when he became the first American new anchor to be seriously wounded while in a war zone. Covering the war in Iraq, Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury on January 29th, while riding in a tank, when an improvised explosive device exploded near Taji, Iraq. He emerged from a medically-induced coma in early March and began his miraculous recovery. Book, television appearances, and the founding of the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injuries - to assist members of the military following traumatic brain injuries - has brought this issue into the public's eye.

Quote of the Month

"Summer afternoon---summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
     - Henry James (1843-1916), American literary critic and novelist

© World Almanac Education Group

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

Newsletter Contributors:
Jane Flynn, C. Alan Joyce, Walter Kronenberg, Bill McGeveran and Linda Van Orden.

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