Monthly Archives: February 2015



I admire Tina Turner.

Her indomitable will to survive, and survive she has. She thrived, excelled, and overcame so much.

Here are two live versions of one of my favourites, “River Deep, Mountain High”:  Ike & Tina Turner – “River Deep, Mountain High” 1971 (including intro) and Tina Turner – “River Deep, Mountain High”, recorded live at Hippodrom, Sopot, Poland on August 15th 2000.. Unlike the studio version of this hit, these performances have  Ms. Turner wowing the audience.

The dancing onto the stage; the fashions; the wigs; Ike’s process (okay, the wig); those moves; the Ikettes.

The one and only Tina Turner!



Sung by Tina Turner

Written by Phil Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich

When I was a little girl
I had a rag doll
Only doll I’ve ever owned
Now I love you just the way I loved that
rag doll
But only now my love has grown

And it gets stronger, in every way
And it gets deeper, let me say
And it gets higher, day by day

And do I love you my oh my
Yeh river deep mountain high
If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

When you were a young boy
Did you have a puppy
That always followed you around
Well I’m gonna be as faithful as that puppy
No I’ll never let you down

Cause it grows stronger, like a river flows
And it gets bigger baby, and heaven knows
And it gets sweeter baby, as it grows

And do I love you my oh my
Yeh river deep, mountain high
If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

I love you baby like a flower loves the
And I love you baby just like Tina loves to
And I love you baby like a school boy loves
his pet
And I love you baby, river deep mountain
Oh yeah you’ve gotta believe me
River Deep, Mountain High
Do I love you my oh my, oh baby
River deep, mountain high
If I lost you would I cry
Oh how I love you baby, baby, baby, baby

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Anne Moody in 1963 being harassed alongside John Salter and Joan Trumpauer at a Woolworth’s. Credit Fred Blackwell/Jackson Daily News, via Associated Press

Her death was announced on the website of Representative Bennie G. Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Ms. Moody had had dementia in recent years.

Published in 1968, “Coming of Age in Mississippi” was Ms. Moody’s only work of nonfiction, and one of just two books she published during her lifetime. In unadorned, unflinching prose, it narrated her life from her early childhood through her involvement in the civil rights movement as a young woman.

Reviewing the memoir in The New York Times Book Review, Senator Edward M. Kennedy wrote that it “brings to life the sights and smells and suffering of rural poverty in a way seldom available to those who live far away.” He added: “Anne Moody’s powerful and moving book is a timely reminder that we cannot now relax in the struggle for sound justice in America or in any part of America. We would do so at our peril.”

Anne Moody in 1969. Credit Jack Schrier

A daughter of sharecroppers, Essie Mae Moody was born on Sept. 15, 1940, in Centreville, Miss.; she began calling herself Anne in her teens. As a girl, she cleaned white neighbors’ houses to help support her family.

After attending Natchez Junior College on a basketball scholarship, the young Ms. Moody enrolled in Tougaloo College, a historically black institution near Jackson, Miss., from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1964. During these years she was active in civil rights efforts in Mississippi, working with the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In 1963, Ms. Moody and another activist, Joan Trumpauer, were part of a racially mixed group in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson. As a widely reproduced news photograph shows, a white mob poured condiments the protesters as they sat praying at the counter.

“I was snatched from my stool by two high school students,” Ms. Moody recounted in her memoir. “I was dragged about 30 feet toward the door by my hair when someone made them turn me loose.” She continued:

“The mob started smearing us with ketchup, mustard, sugar, pies and everything on the counter. Soon Joan and I were joined by John Salter, but the moment he sat down he was hit on the jaw with what appeared to be brass knuckles. Blood gushed from his face and someone threw salt into the open wound.”

Ms. Moody’s 1968 book “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” Credit Dell

In the 1960s Ms. Moody moved to New York, where she wrote “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” She lived quietly for decades, granting no interviews and holding a series of non-writing jobs, including as a counselor in a New York City antipoverty program, before returning to Mississippi.

Ms. Moody’s marriage to Austin Straus ended in divorce. Her survivors, according to Mr. Thompson’s office, include her son, Sascha Straus; four sisters, Adline Moody, Virginia Gibson, Frances Jefferson and Vallery Jefferson; and three brothers, Ralph Jefferson, James Jefferson and Kenneth Jefferson.

Her other book, “Mr. Death,” published in 1975, is a slender collection of short stories for young people on the theme of mortality.

In the 2014 edition of the reference work Contemporary Authors Online, an autobiographical statement from Ms. Moody illuminates both her departure from the civil rights movement and her comparative silence as a writer:

“In the beginning I never really saw myself as a writer,” she said. “I was first and foremost an activist in the civil rights movement in Mississippi.”

However, Ms. Moody continued, “I came to see through my writing that no matter how hard we in the movement worked, nothing seemed to change.” She added: “We were like an angry dog on a leash that had turned on its master. It could bark and howl and snap, and sometimes even bite, but the master was always in control.”


I read Ms. Moody’s memoir years ago and her heartfelt writing left quite an impression on me.

Ms. Moody lived during a time when the world for both Black and White citizens was changing:  change for the good for many White people; little to no change for black people. In the year 2015, the low value of black life is still ongoing.

I honor all that Ms. Moody and the many young Black and White people did who fought for a better life for me and the rest of America.

She will be missed.

Rest in peace, Ms. Anne Moody.

Rest in peace.



Lesley Gore in May 1964 with a flower-covered record at her 18th birthday party at the Delmonico Hotel in New York. Credit Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press

Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years, said Ms. Gore died of lung cancer at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

With songs like “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and the indelibly defiant 1964 single “You Don’t Own Me” — all recorded before she was 18 — Ms. Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends, moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self-assertion.

“You Don’t Own Me,” written by John Madara and David White, originally reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been repeatedly rerecorded and revived by performers including Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett and the cast of the 1996 movie “The First Wives Club.”

“When I heard it for the first time, I thought it had an important humanist quality,” Ms. Gore told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2010. “As I got older, feminism became more a part of my life and more a part of our whole awareness, and I could see why people would use it as a feminist anthem. I don’t care what age you are — whether you’re 16 or 116 — there’s nothing more wonderful than standing on the stage and shaking your finger and singing, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ ”

The singer in 2007. Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

Ms. Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein on May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn. She grew up in Tenafly, N.J., eager to become a singer. She had just turned 16, a junior in high school, when her vocal coach had her make some piano-and-voice recordings. Those demos, with a youthful brightness in her voice, reached the producer Quincy Jones, who was then an A&R man at Mercury Records. He became her producer and mentor.

Ms. Gore recorded “It’s My Party” on March 30, 1963, and when Mr. Jones discovered that Phil Spector and the Crystals were also recording the song, he rush-released it within a week. It reached No. 1 and was followed onto the charts by “Judy’s Turn To Cry” — a sequel to “It’s My Party” that gets the boyfriend back — and other tales of teen romance like “She’s a Fool,” “That’s the Way Boys Are” and “Maybe I Know,” as well as “You Don’t Own Me.”

Ms. Gore was featured — with James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye — in the 1964 concerts at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that were documented as the “T.A.M.I. Show.” She also had moderate hits with some of the first Marvin Hamlisch songs to be recorded: “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” in 1965 and “California Nights” in 1967.

Yet at the peak of her pop career Ms. Gore was in school full time, majoring in English and American literature at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., where she graduated in 1968. She played an occasional television show or concert on weekends or during vacations.

“It would be very foolish of me to leave school to go into such an unpredictable field on a full-time basis,” she told an interviewer at the time.

Ms. Gore’s string of hits ended when girl-group pop gave way to psychedelia. But she kept performing — in movies, on television, on theater and club stages. She appeared in the 1960s “Batman” television series as the Pink Pussycat, one of Catwoman’s sidekicks.

Ms. Gore did not write her early hits. But after she was dropped by Mercury, she worked on becoming a songwriter. She moved to California in 1970, and her 1972 album, “Someplace Else Now,” was full of songs she wrote herself or with the lyricist Ellen Weston.

She reconnected with Mr. Jones for the 1975 album “Love Me by Name,” also filled with her own songs and drawing on guest performers including Herbie Hancock. But it, too, was largely ignored, as was “The Canvas Can Do Miracles,” an album of versions of 1970s pop hits released in 1982.

“Out Here on My Own,” a song Ms. Gore wrote with her brother, Michael Gore, for the soundtrack of the movie “Fame,” became a hit for Irene Cara in 1980 and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Ms. Gore lived in New York City. Besides Ms. Sasson, she is survived by her brother and her mother, Ronny Gore.

Ms. Gore returned to New York City in 1980 and continued to sing her oldies on the nostalgia circuit. She also performed in musical theater, including a stint in the Broadway production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” She worked in television, hosting episodes of “In the Life,” a PBS newsmagazine series about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In 2005, she came out publicly as gay.

Her 2005 album, “Ever Since,” was full of reflective grown-up songs in cabaret style, along with a bitterly moody remake of “You Don’t Own Me.” Television shows picked up some of its tracks: “Better Angels” was heard on “C.S.I.,” and “Words We Don’t Say” was played on “The L Word.”

Ms. Gore was a headliner in 2011 at “She’s Got The Power,” a Lincoln Center Out of Doors concert devoted to the girl-group era. In 2012, “You Don’t Own Me” returned during the presidential election, as a feminist get-out-the-vote video. As it begins, Ms. Gore appears, announcing, “I’m Lesley Gore, and I approve this message.”

In recent years, Ms. Gore had been working on a memoir and a Broadway show based on her life.




Louis Jourdan and Leslie Caron as the heroine in Vincente Minnelli’s musical “Gigi” (1958). Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

His official biographer, Olivier Minne, announced the death.

Mr. Jourdan (his name was pronounced Lew-EE zhor-DON) had a reserved, quiet manner that lent his performances an aura of mystery and even of melancholy and that served him well in both sympathetic and unsympathetic roles.

His durability was remarkable, considering that his European screen career as well as his American one began inauspiciously.

Born Louis Henri Gendre in Marseilles on June 19, 1921, Mr. Jourdan attended acting school in Paris and was tapped for a role in the film “Le Corsaire,” directed by Marc Allégret. But the outbreak of World War II interrupted the production, and the movie was never completed.

He appeared in several films during the Occupation, often directed by Mr. Allégret, for whom he also sometimes worked as an assistant director. After his father, a hotelier, was arrested by the Gestapo, Mr. Jourdan joined the Resistance.

Mr. Jourdan as Prince Kamal Khan, the villain in the 1983 James Bond film “Octopussy.” Credit MGM/UA Entertainment

After the war he went to the United States and attracted the attention of the producer David O. Selznick, who cast him in the courtroom drama “The Paradine Case” (1947), very much against the wishes of the director, Alfred Hitchcock.

Mr. Jourdan’s character, a slightly sinister valet suspected of murdering his employer, was originally conceived as a rough, earthy type, which Mr. Jourdan was clearly not. Mr. Hitchcock referred to him as “a pretty-pretty boy” and complained that his casting “destroyed the whole point of the film.” (There appeared to be no lingering antagonism: Mr. Jourdan was among the mourners at Mr. Hitchcock’s funeral in 1980.)

Mr. Jourdan was more fortunate in his next Hollywood assignment, playing a concert pianist who seduces and abandons Joan Fontaine in Max Ophuls’s elegant romantic tragedy “Letter From an Unknown Woman” (1948). It was a role that allowed him to use his silky, hooded charm to memorably ambiguous effect, and to create, for one of the few times in his long career, a truly complex character — a hollow man who comes, in the end, to understand how much his hollowness has cost him.

The next year he won the important role of Rodolphe, the heroine’s lover, in Vincente Minnelli’s film version of “Madame Bovary.” For the next decade he appeared in many high-profile, big-budget studio pictures, usually performing the somewhat limited function of embodying Hollywood’s idea of the dashing, cultured, worldly European man.

His greatest success in this mode came when he starred opposite Leslie Caron in Mr. Minnelli’s musical “Gigi” (1958), a major hit that won nine Academy Awards, including best picture. (Mr. Jourdan was not nominated, for this or for any other movie in his career; “Gigi” did, however, earn him a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical.)

Between Hollywood jobs, Mr. Jourdan would occasionally return to Europe to make films, among them Jacques Becker’s “Rue de l’Estrapade” (1953). And in 1954 he took a shot at Broadway, playing the lead in a stage adaptation of André Gide’s novel “The Immoralist.” Although he received good reviews, his performance was partly eclipsed by that of a striking young actor in the supporting cast: James Dean.

After the 1950s, the Continental types that had been Mr. Jourdan’s bread and butter fell out of favor in American movies. For the last 30 years of his performing life Mr. Jourdan — still attractive and still impeccably dignified, but looking a bit more world-weary with every passing year — was cast more often as a Prince of Darkness than as Prince Charming. He played the oily Dr. Anton Arcane in Wes Craven’s “Swamp Thing” (1982) and its 1989 sequel, “The Return of Swamp Thing,” and the evil Kamal Khan, from whom James Bond is obliged to save the world, in “Octopussy” (1983).

Mr. Jourdan had the opportunity to play more nuanced villains on television. He was a guest murderer on “Columbo” in 1978, a year after he gave a seductive and chilling performance in the title role of “Count Dracula” on the BBC.

He was named as a chevalier, or knight, of the French Legion of Honor in 2010.

Mr. Jourdan was, by all accounts, well liked in Hollywood, but he kept his private life private. In 1946 he married Berthe Frederique; they remained married until her death last year. The couple had one child, Louis Henry Jourdan Jr., who died of a drug overdose in 1981, at 29. A brother, Pierre Jourdan, who was an actor and a theater director in France, died in 2007.

Louis Jourdan made his last appearance on screen in 1992, in the caper film “Year of the Comet.” He played the bad guy.




Buster Keaton, Poker-Faced Comedian, Dies at 70

(Feb. 1, 1966)

Arthur Ashe, Tennis Star, Dies at 49

(Feb. 6, 1993)

Hussein, King Who Took Risks, Dies at 63

(Feb. 7, 1999)

Iris Murdoch, Novelist and Philosopher, Dies at 79

(Feb. 8, 1999)

Alex Haley, Author of ‘Roots,’ Dies at 70

(Feb. 10, 1992)

Charles Schulz, ‘Peanuts’ Creator, Dies at 77

(Feb. 12, 2000)

Ethel Merman, Queen of Musicals, Dies at 76

(Feb. 15, 1984)

Geronimo, Apache Chief, Dies

(Feb. 17, 1909)

Alfred P. Sloan Jr., G.M. Leader, Dies at 90

(Feb. 17, 1966)

Thelonious Monk, Jazz Composer, Dies at 64

(Feb. 17, 1982)

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Atom Bomb Pioneer, Dies at 62

(Feb. 18, 1967)

Deng Xiaoping, China’s Political Wizard, Dies at 92

(Feb. 19, 1997)

Frederick Douglass, Anti-Slavery Crusader, Dies

(Feb. 20, 1895)

Chester W. Nimitz, Who Built Pacific Fleet, Dies at 80

(Feb. 20, 1966)

George Ellery Hale, Astronomer, Dies at 69

(Feb. 21, 1938)

Elijah Muhammad, Black Muslim Leader, Dies at 77

(Feb. 25, 1975)

Mabel Cratty, Y.W.C.A. Leader, Dies at 60

(Feb. 27, 1928)

Henry R. Luce, Creator of Time-Life Empire, Dies at 68

(Feb. 28, 1967)

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obama on muslim religion

Cartoon by Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle, February 19, 2015.

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The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. It also remembers events such as the killing of four students on February 21, 1952, because they campaigned to officially use their mother language, Bengali, in Bangladesh.

The fight for language diversity has a history, especially in countries such as Bangladesh.
The fight for language diversity has a history, especially in countries such as Bangladesh.

What do people do?

On International Mother Language Day the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support.

In Bangladesh, February 21 is the anniversary of a pivotal day in the country’s history. People lay flowers at a Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument). They also: purchase glass bangles for themselves or female relatives; eat a festive meal and organize parties; and award prizes or host literary competitions. It is a time to celebrate Bangladesh’s culture and the Bengali language.

The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, aims to preserve and promote linguistic diversity globally. The institute presents the Linguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year. The prize is for those who have made outstanding work in linguistic diversity or multilingual education.

Public life

International Mother Language Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh, where it is also known as Shohid Dibôsh, or Shaheed Day. It is a global observance but not a public holiday in other parts of the world.


At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. However, there was economic, cultural and lingual friction between East and West Pakistan.

These tensions were apparent in 1948 when Pakistan’s government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students. These students’ deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day.

The unrest continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.

On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 to be International Mother Language Day and it was first observed on February 21, 2000. Each year the celebrations around International Mother Language Day concentrate on a particular theme.


The Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pays homage to the four demonstrators killed in 1952. There have been three versions of the monument. The first version was built on February 22-23 in 1952 but the police and army destroyed it within a few days. Construction on the second version started in November 1957, but the introduction of martial law stopped construction work and it was destroyed during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

The third version of the Shaheed Minar was built to similar plans as the second version. It consists of four standing marble frames and a larger double marble frame with a slanted top portion. The frames are constructed from marble and stand on a stage, which is raised about four meters (14 feet) above the ground. The four frames represent the four men who died on February 21, 1952, and the double frame represents their mothers and country. Replicas of the Shaheed Minar have been constructed worldwide where people from Bangladesh have settled, particularly in London and Oldham in the United Kingdom.

An International Mother Language Day monument was erected at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia, on February 19, 2006.  It consists of a slab of slate mounted vertically on a raised platform. There are stylized images of the Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone. There are also the words “we will remember the martyrs of 21st February” in English and Bengali and words in five alphabets to represent mother languages on five continents where people live.

International Mother Language Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Mon Feb 21 2000 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 21 2001 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2002 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 21 2003 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sat Feb 21 2004 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Mon Feb 21 2005 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 21 2006 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 21 2007 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2008 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sat Feb 21 2009 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sun Feb 21 2010 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Mon Feb 21 2011 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 21 2012 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2013 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 21 2014 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sat Feb 21 2015 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sun Feb 21 2016 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 21 2017 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 21 2018 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2019 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 21 2020 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance

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The United Nations’ (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.

The World Summit for Social Development, which promoted social justice, was held in Copenhagen (pictured above) in 1995.
The World Summit for Social Development, which promoted social justice, was held in Copenhagen (pictured above) in 1995.

What do people do?

Many organizations, including the UN and the International Labour Office, make statements on the importance of social justice for people. Many organizations also present plans for greater social justice by tackling poverty, social and economic exclusion and unemployment. Trade unions and campaign groups are invited to call on their members and supporters to mark the day. The Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions declared that the common slogan would be “Social Justice and Decent Life for All!”.

Schools, colleges and universities may prepare special activities for the day or plan a week of events around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Different media, including radio and television stations, newspapers and Internet sites, may give attention to the issues around the World Day of Social Justice.

It is hoped that particular coverage is given to the links between the illicit trade in diamonds and armed conflicts, particularly in Africa, and the importance of the International Criminal Court. This is an independent court that conducts trials of people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Public life

The World Day of Social Justice is a global observance and not a public holiday.


The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 and resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. At this summit, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.

Nearly 10 years later, the UN’s member states reviewed the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action when they gathered at a session of the Commission for Social Development in New York in February 2005. They also agreed to commit to advance social development. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.

World Day of Social Justice Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Fri Feb 20 2009 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Sat Feb 20 2010 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Sun Feb 20 2011 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Mon Feb 20 2012 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Wed Feb 20 2013 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Thu Feb 20 2014 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Fri Feb 20 2015 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Sat Feb 20 2016 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Mon Feb 20 2017 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Tue Feb 20 2018 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Wed Feb 20 2019 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Thu Feb 20 2020 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance

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Cepheids Map the Milky Way — And Beyond

Cepheid variable stars are helping astronomers see what our galaxy looks like from within.

Tempest in the Teacup Galaxy

New observations of the Teacup Galaxy show that even black holes with wimpy radio jets can quench a galaxy’s star formation.

Deep Fried Comet Ice

Scientists studying ice in the lab say comets’ soft cores and hard exteriors have much in common with a particular dessert.


Venus and Mars Pair Tightly at Dusk

Look west TONIGHT for a strikingly close pairing of Venus, Mars, and the crescent Moon.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, February 20 – 28

While you’re out observing the tight conjunction, you might want to take a stop by Jupiter to observe some mutual events among its moons. The Pleiades and Hyades clusters also star on these wintry evenings.

The Pleasures of Keeping an Astro Journal

Keeping a record of what you see in the telescope is not only fun but helps grow your observing skills. Learn how to start a journal and see how other amateurs keep theirs.

Comet Lovejoy Shines On

Moonless evening skies last only until around February 23rd, so follow Comet Lovejoy high overhead while you still can. The comet has been fading more slowly than expected. Use our February finder chart.

Astronomy Podcast: Tour February’s Sky

Orion is riding high in the south as darkness settles in. See what other February stargazing sights await.


Introducing Sky & Telescope‘s Earth Globe

Satellite imagery, oceanography, and other datasets come together to show our home planet from mountaintop to ocean bottom.

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League of the South to Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

By Keegan Hankes on February 19, 2015 – 2:31 pm

Members of the Maryland-Virginia chapter of the League of the South (LOS) are set to host an event celebrating John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Screen shot from the LOS main Facebook page.

The event, organized by Shane Long, the Vice Chairman of the Maryland-Virginia LOS, is scheduled to take place in Baltimore on April 11th.

“The Maryland-Virginia League of the South commemorates the actions of Mr. John Wilkes Booth of Maryland who, motivated by the tyranny his Southern people faced, answered his calling with courage and fortitude,” states the Facebook page for the event.

The event is just one more example of the type of inflammatory rhetoric that has become the norm during the recent evolution of the LOS from a would-be heritage organization to a full-blown bastion of neo-confederate extremism perhaps best exemplified in September of last year, when a Hatewatch investigation revealed that after a year of regular street demonstrations and activism, LOS leadership had authorized the formation of a paramilitary militia known as the “Indomitables.”

The John Wilkes Booth celebration will be the third event held by LOS in 2015, following a recent demonstration held in Gainesville, Fla. and a protest scheduled in Vidalia, Ga. for late March. Both events have been titled “Immigration Hurts Southern Workers,” a strategy repeatedly utilized by LOS in 2014 in order to appeal to more moderate Southerners, though whether the celebration of the murder of a U.S. president is a “traditional conservative value” remains to be seen.

“This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln,” wrote LOS president Michael Hill. “A century and a half after the fact,” writes Hill, “The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity.”


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Enslaved Black Americans were not just chattel on a piece of paper.

They were human beings who led harsh and brutal lives under slavery’s bullwhip and yoke, as students in the following article learned.

As one student stated:  “He recalls a time when one of the students, who had often struggled in school, looked up from a deed he’d been working on and marvelled, “I am holding someone’s life in my hands.”

Powerful words indeed.


Doing History in Buncombe County

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Each year, thousands of North Carolina students study slavery as part of the North Carolina and U.S. history curriculum. It’s not an easy topic—in fact, many educators shy away from teaching about slavery beyond the bare minimum requirements. But in Buncombe County, North Carolina, the chance discovery of a cache of slave deeds led to an opportunity for students to move beyond textbooks and worksheets and connect with individuals who lived in their own community during slavery. It didn’t make the topic any easier, but it did lead to a community-wide collaboration that has connected Buncombe residents more deeply to their past and made them participants in history.

The Buncombe County Slave
Deeds Project

Fostering agency is a central component of social justice education. But before students can see themselves as agents, they must see themselves as creators of history and connect with historical struggles—and peoples—of the past.

Deborah Miles, director of the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education, knew that primary sources are an excellent vehicle for promoting historical empathy and agency. So in 1997, when local real estate attorney Marc Rudow told her he had stumbled on a collection of slave deeds while researching a parcel of land at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, she was eager to use them with students. Slave deeds are bills of sale. Enslaved people were considered property, and any transfer of property was recorded between 1792 and 1865 when slavery was abolished. The cache Rudow found included more than 350 deeds.

With support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Miles organized a summer internship project for 10 high school and college students. The students worked long hours poring over the records, digitizing the documents and providing an initial analysis of each deed. Through this process they began to better understand both the human face of slavery and the dehumanizing practice of treating people as property, all while developing the skills of professional historians. “[They] became the diggers of history, not just passive recipients,” recalls Miles. “They made history and set in motion a chain of events that is still unfolding.”

It wasn’t long before Eric Grant, a curriculum specialist for the Buncombe County Schools district, took note of the project and extended its reach. Grant, working with students at a local alternative program for high school juniors and seniors, used an array of Google tools to magnify and manipulate the digitized deeds for transcription. Grant’s students begin to recognize names: Woodfin, Merrimon and Vance. These names mark the roads the kids travelled on their way to and from school every day—and they were the names of slaveholders. The connection flipped a light switch: Students began to realize how entwined the history of the region really was with their everyday lives.

Then, in 2012, Drew Reisinger, the newly elected Buncombe County register of deeds, learned of the students’ work and immediately saw the ethical and practical value of placing the deeds online. This act of transparency led Buncombe County to become the first in the country to make such deeds available to the public. These primary source documents could now be accessed not only by historians but also by family genealogists, who had once been locked out of the historical narrative of slavery in every former slave-holding county from Maine to Texas.

As word of this remarkable project spread, more community partners began to express interest. These partners now include state officials, professional and amateur genealogists, other local educators and nonprofit agencies. Faculty at a local university began using the online slave deeds with preservice teachers, many of whom plan to teach in Buncombe County. In one social studies methods course, students transcribed deeds, reviewed previously transcribed deeds, wrote lesson plans based on the documents and created 30-second public service announcement videos to broaden support for the project. The project was enthusiastically embraced. Preservice teachers gained a deeper understanding of the ways in which social justice education can work in the classroom, and, at the same time, became part of a larger community story about slavery, identity, reconciliation and the struggle to more accurately understand local history.

Teaching Transformation

Teaching the topic of slavery at any level can be both emotionally charged and confusing, so the educators behind the Buncombe County Slave Deeds Project took steps to prepare their students. While most of the high schoolers knew basic information about the institution of slavery, many had no real depth of knowledge about the experiences of enslaved people or slaveholders. Miles, Grant and other participants provided students with content knowledge and background information so that the deeds could be appropriately sourced and contextualized—a necessary step if students were going to formulate deeper research questions. Preservice teachers spent time discussing developmentally appropriate ways to address the topic of slavery in their future classrooms.

Working with the primary materials of the past has brought about countless transformative moments for the young people participating in the project. Ashland Thompson, a member of the original cohort of interns and now a Ph.D. candidate, reflects, “What was shocking to me was that so much documentation still existed in our community. I saw the relevance of tracing ancestry. I learned that summer, at a young age, that if I wanted to look at my past here is a way to do it—it can be done.”

“History has always been so distant from [students], both in time and space, but the deeds hit home for many of them,” Grant observes. “They also are confronted with some grotesque facts—the relative price of a young man versus a young female, the sale of an entire family, that some of the names are listed on wills alongside the exchange of furniture. Recognition of this is powerful and becomes personal.”

He recalls a time when one of the students, who had often struggled in school, looked up from a deed he’d been working on and marvelled, “I am holding someone’s life in my hands.”

Future Pathways

As word about the project has spread and educators have seen the value of students working firsthand with the Buncombe County slave deeds, other partners have come forward. Pam Smith with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History contacted Reisinger and Miles and soon the project spread to Clemson University and the University of Georgia, evolving into a collaborative project entitled People Not Property. Historians, database experts and community advocates are now partnering to create a national slave deeds database using the investigative work of students throughout the country as they too become “diggers of history” in their own communities. In Buncombe County, the YMI Cultural Center will soon host a conference to provide an overview of the project and professional development for 50 teachers who want to use the deeds in their classrooms.

Says Smith, “We want teachers, students and family historians to be able to sit at their computers and access local county records for free—bills of sale, wills, inventories and more—some of the best historical documents available for connecting the dots and more easily finding the enslaved. This is cutting edge. It’s never been done before, and it’s time.”

Adcock is an assistant professor in the education department and director of American Indian Outreach at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

>> Bring your students closer to local history.

>> Click here for the PDF version of this article.

Meeting Sarah Gudger

The power of the deeds project can be seen in the story of Sarah Gudger. She was born into slavery in 1816 near Old Fort, North Carolina, and lived to be 122 years old. One of the most compelling discoveries in the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office was the original deed documenting her ownership, allowing for new possible narratives and perspectives of her life. (More of her story can be found at the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project.)

Drew Reisinger reflects, “Finding Sarah Gudger’s bill of sale was significant for me because I’ve seen Sarah’s picture (above), and I have read her interview in the Library of Congress Slave Narratives. It is her story that shows me what life was like in Buncombe County for a slave, and the connection between that story and the documents recorded in this office brought home to me the magnitude of history that sits on our shelves.”


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Bob Simon in 2010. Credit John P. Filo/CBS News, via Associated Press

Mr. Simon was a passenger in a livery cab that sideswiped a Mercedes-Benz sedan stopped at a red light on 12th Avenue near West 30th Street about 6:45 p.m., the police said. The cab then careened into the median, crashing into the metal stanchions separating the northbound and southbound traffic lanes. Mr. Simon, who, the police said, was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was taken to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The 44-year-old livery-cab driver was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center with two broken legs and a broken arm. The driver of the Mercedes was not injured. The police said on Thursday that the livery cab had accelerated in the seconds before the crash. Both the cab driver and the driver of the Mercedes tested negative for alcohol.

Mr. Simon, who was in his 19th season as a correspondent for “60 Minutes,” won dozens of honors, including 27 Emmy Awards and four Peabody Awards, in a career that dated to the 1960s. He covered many significant news events during the course of that career and, as a war correspondent, was captured by Iraqi forces near the Saudi-Kuwait border during the opening days of the Persian Gulf war in January 1991.

He wrote about that experience in his 1992 memoir, “40 Days.” The title referred to the length of his captivity.

Mr. Simon joined CBS News in 1967 as a reporter and assignment editor in New York, where he covered unrest on college campuses, urban riots and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He found his niche as a war reporter covering the Vietnam War.

He was based in Saigon and London from 1971 to 1977, and left Saigon on one of the last American helicopters out of the city in 1975, CBS reported. He also covered conflicts in Northern Ireland and Portugal, as well as American military actions in Grenada, Somalia and Haiti.

He was assigned to CBS’s Tel Aviv bureau from 1977 to 1981 and then moved to Washington, where he was the network’s State Department correspondent from 1981 to 1982. He returned to New York as a national correspondent and remained there until 1987, when he returned to Tel Aviv as the network’s chief Middle East correspondent.

Mr. Simon received a Peabody in 2000 for “a body of work by an outstanding international journalist on a diverse set of critical global issues,” and an Emmy for lifetime achievement in 2003, according to the CBS website. He became a full-time correspondent for “60 Minutes” in 2005. He earned his most recent Emmy for a story about an orchestra in Paraguay whose members made instruments out of trash.

Mr. Simon, seated center, was in his 19th season as a correspondent for “60 Minutes,” and had won 27 Emmy Awards and four Peabody Awards. Credit John P. Filo/CBS

His latest contribution to “60 Minutes,” broadcast over the weekend, was an interview with Ava DuVernay, the director of the movie “Selma.”

“It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News,” Jeff Fager, executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said in a statement. “It is such a tragedy made worse because we lost him in a car accident, a man who has escaped more difficult situations than almost any journalist in modern times.”

Robert David Simon was born on May 29, 1941, in the Bronx, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University in 1962 with a degree in history, according to his biography page on the CBS website. Before joining CBS, he worked as a Foreign Service officer from 1964 to 1967. He was also a Fulbright scholar in France and a Woodrow Wilson scholar.

His survivors include his wife, Françoise, and their daughter, Tanya, a producer for “60 Minutes” in New York.

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February 13 is World Radio Day, which celebrates the radio as a way of educating people, providing information, and promoting freedom of expression across cultures.

Vintage radios that served their purpose during times of peace and war.
Vintage radios that served their purpose during times of peace and war.

Celebrate World Radio Day

Each year the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates World Radio Day by planning activities with broadcasters, organizations and communities around the world.

Public life

Radio Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

About World Radio Day

Despite being over 100 years old, the radio is one of the most popular ways to exchange information, provide social interchange, and educate people all over the world. It has been used to help people, including youth, to engage in discussions on topics that affect them. It can save lives during natural or human-made disasters, and it gives journalists a platform to report facts and tell their stories. The first World Radio Day was officially celebrated in 2012.

World Radio Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Mon Feb 13 2012 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 13 2013 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 13 2014 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 13 2015 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Sat Feb 13 2016 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Mon Feb 13 2017 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 13 2018 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 13 2019 World Radio Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 13 2020 World Radio Day United Nations observance

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