This Day in World History – In the fatal climax of months of turmoil, six women and two men were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, after having been found guilty of witchcraft. The eight were the last victims of a witchcraft hysteria that gripped Salem and other towns in Massachusetts in 1692. The tumult began in February 1692, when several young girls began to behave strangely and complained of physical torments. Soon, the girls were accusing women in the village of being witches. Witchcraft was a capital offense at the time, and colonial leaders set up a court to investigate. In all, about 140 people—86% of whom were women—were accused of witchcraft in Salem.
This Day in World History – While hiking through the Alps on the Italian-Austrian border, Erika and Helmut Simon, a German couple, spotted a brown shape in a watery gully below them. Scrambling down to investigate, they realized that they were looking at a human head and shoulder. Assuming the body was a climber who had been killed in a fall, they reported their find to authorities. The body was removed with a jackhammer and tourists made off with some of its clothing and the tools that were found with it.
We, the editors of OUPblog, field a lot of questions about “the Press.” Sometimes, these questions aren’t even questions, just statements of misinformation or confusion such as:
I thought you just published textbooks…
But Oxford University Press is in Oxford…
OUPblog is amazing! (Oops, how’d that one slip in there…)
By Louis René Beres
Every time I get on an airplane, I am struck by the contradictions. As a species, we can take tons of heavy metal, and transform them into a once-unfathomable vehicle of travel. At the same time, we are required to take off our shoes, and discard our bottled water, before being allowed to board. The point, of course, is not to make us more comfortable (those days are long gone), but to ensure that we don’t blow up the aircraft.
By Daniel Byman and Charles King Three years ago this month, Russia and Georgia fought a brief and brutal war over an obscure slice of mountainous land called South Ossetia that had declared its independence from Georgia. Flouting international law, Russia stepped in to defend South Ossetia and later formally recognized the secessionists as a […]
Gerald Steinacher is the first person to uncover the full extent of the secret escape routes and hiding places ‘ratlines’ that smuggled Nazis out of Europe, through South Tyrol, across the Alps into Italy, and onward to Argentina and elsewhere. His ground-breaking research in the archives of the ICRC in Geneva brought to light the fact that the Red Cross supplied travel papers to war criminals – amongst them Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele.
By Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu
The Central Intelligence Agency was created in 1947 under the National Security Act. The act allowed for “functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security,” in addition to intelligence gathering. Initially, the scope of the CIA was relegated to intelligence, though a substantial and vocal group advocated for a more active role for the agency. This culminated in National Security Council Directive No. 4, which ordered the CIA to undertake covert actions against communism.
By George Levine
How could Darwin still be controversial? We do not worry a lot about Isaac Newton, nor even about Albert Einstein, whose ideas have been among the powerful shapers of modern Western culture. Yet for many people, undisturbed by the law of gravity or by the theories of relativity that, I would venture, 99% of us don’t really understand, Darwin remains darkly threatening. One of the great figures in the history of Western thought, he was respectable and revered enough even in his own time to be buried in Westminster Abbey, of all places. He supported his local church; he was a Justice of the Peace; and he never was photographed as a working scientist, only as a gentleman and a family man. Yet a significant proportion of people in the English-speaking world vociferously do not “believe” in him.
The conversation in the new and old media over the last several weeks has been dominated by reports about uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and violent clashes in Bahrain, Yemen, the Ivory Coast, Iraq and elsewhere. In Libya, fighting currently is reported to take place close to strategic oil installations. Because of the scarcity of claims arising out of similar events in investor-state arbitration, political risk insurance claims determinations by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) can play an important role to develop this area of law and fill these gaps in future investor-state arbitral arbitrations.
The approach of St Patrick’s day brings to mind once again the ambivalent relationship that historians have with festivals and anniversaries. On the one hand they are our bread and butter. Regular commemorations are what keep the past alive in the public mind. And big anniversaries, like 1989 for historians of the French Revolution, or 2009 for historians of Darwinism, can provide the occasion of conferences, exhibitions, publishers’ contracts, and even invitations to appear on television.
In his latest book Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China, journalist and author Patrick Wright tells the story of the British delegations that took up Prime Minister En-lai’s invitation to ‘come and see’ the New China on the fifth anniversary of the communist victory in 1954. Here, Wright answers a few questions I had about this intense era of diplomacy – when it ended and how it went wrong.
By Nigel Young
By the time I first moved into peace research in 1963, I had become aware of the State’s interests (or often several States’ interests) in the anti-war movement: McCarthyist informers, Cold War agent provocateurs, intelligence sniffers, as well as plain opportunists, con-men, the confused, and mavericks – it was not only phone taps and men in macs. And then there were some odd characters in the peace movement itself, like Bertrand Russell’s secretary, R. Schoenman, and on the margins Pergamon Press’ Robert Maxwell, or the MP John Stonehouse in the U.K. The Quakerly dictum, “think the best of everyone you meet”, was certainly the one that many of us aspired to, but how many “strikes” before someone was out of the reach of trust and credibility? During the anti-draft movement in the U.S.A., the “plants” were obvious, their jeans and denim didn’t fit, they were awkward and not very with it, and their sunglasses were not cool. But they sowed mutual suspicion and that was enough. Many groups broke up. And during and after McCarthyism, in the 1960s, I directly experienced the entry of agents, often ex-military, into peace studies and action roles – not so much to gain information as much as to disrupt, divide and dismantle.
By David A. Steinberg
London essentially determined Burmese independence, although the cry for an independent Burma by the Burmese was long, loud, and clear. Following World War II, there were thousands of Burmese with arms who might have made retention of British control very tenuous. Winston Churchill said he was not about to see the dissolution of the British Empire, but the Labour Party won the postwar elections. India was bound to become independent, and Burma would certainly follow. England was exhausted by the war; holding onto their colonies in the face of rising nationalism seemed impossible. Inevitable independence, then, should be gracefully granted. What kind of independence, and whether independent Burma would be divided between Burma Proper and a separate minority area was unclear. Some in England wanted to try Aung San as a traitor because he backed the Japanese before and during most of the war,
By David Crystal
There’s a language dying out somewhere in the world every two weeks or so. It’s a far greater crisis, proportionately speaking, than the threat of extinction facing plants and animals. Half the world’s languages are so seriously endangered that they are likely to disappear this century. That’s 3000 languages, maybe.
Images of people about to die surface repeatedly in the news and their appearance raises questions: What equips an image to deliver the news; how much does the public need to know to make sense of what they see; and what do these images contribute to historical memory? These images call on us to rethink both journalism and its public response, and in so doing they suggest both an alternative voice in the news – a subjunctive voice of the visual that pushes the ‘as if’ of news over its ‘as is’ dimensions – and an alternative mode of public engagement with journalism – an engagement fueled not by reason and understanding but by imagination and emotion.
In About to Die: How News Images Move the Public, Barbie Zelizer suggests that a different kind of news relay, producing a different kind of public response, has settled into our information environment.
Click through to watch a video from the Annenberg School for Communication.
Racial profiling and manipulation have existed for a long time. It has become an issue in modern politics, and over 2500 years ago the Greek historian Herodotos wrote that ethnicity was often turned to political ends. Cleopatra VII, the last queen of Egypt, is often a victim of racial profiling.