Obama orders flags lowered to honor U.S. diplomats

September 12, 2012

Release from the White House:

For Immediate Release
September 12, 2012

Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Benghazi, Libya


– – – – – – –



As a mark of respect for the memory of John Christopher Stevens, United States Ambassador to Libya, and American personnel killed in the senseless attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, September 16, 2012. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


A turn of the page of history: “When will Arabs awaken?”

October 22, 2011

I just stumbled across this photograph, taken in October 2010, in Sirte, Libya, at the opening of the “Second Arab-African Summit.”

2nd Arab-African Summit, Sirte, Libya, October 2010

2nd Arab-African Summit, Sirte, Libya, October 2010

One source identifies this as an Associated Press photo (can I claim fair use here for the purposes of history discussion?).

I cannot identify all the leaders of nations in this picture, but there, on the front row we see what are the ghosts of history — at least, they are ghosts from our vantage point in October 2011, just one year later.

On the far left of the first row in the photo smiles Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, now resigned and fled the nation in the first big event of the sweeping broom of freedom we now call Arab Spring; next to him, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who today barely clings to power trying to negotiate his own departure after eight months of protests in his nation.  Dominating the center, in his flamboyant robes, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, killed yesterday in the civil war that brought down his 42-years of despotic government a few weeks earlier.  Gaddafi’s leaning post is now-ousted-and-on-trial Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Syria’s Bashar al Assad is happy he was not in the center of this group, and hopes that’s a good omen for him — though Assad did attend this event.

Syria President Bashar Al Assad at Sirte, Libya, African Arab Summit, October 10, 2010

Syria President Bashar Al Assad at Sirte, Libya, African Arab Summit, October 10, 2010 – photo by Kaled Desouki, via PRI

This historic photo above appeared as an illustration to an article by an Arab sociologist bemoaning the dwindling hopes of change in the Arab world, and asking the question:  “When will Arabs awaken?”  Dr. Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa’s article sounds prophetic, now.

When will the pages of history turn?  Soon, perhaps, and when we least expect it and when some have lost hope they will turn at all.

Can you help identify others in the photo?  Surely there are other photos from this meeting in Sirte, Libya.  What do they show?


Big bone sale in Dallas, part 2: Is P. Z. Myers bidding on this one?

June 12, 2011

It’s perfect for him.  Perfect.  Bidding stands at about $2,500 at the moment:

Gem tektite octopus - Heritage Auctions June 12, 2011 - IMGP6864 - copyright Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Did our cephalopod overlords leave this for us, 29 million years ago? It's looking right at you, you know.

Is P. Z. Myers bidding on this thing?

According to the catalogue from Heritage Auctions, this piece of glass was formed in what is now the Libyan Sahara 29 million years ago when a meteoroid struck the sand, creating massive heat that fused sand into glass.  This light lemonade colored glass comes from only a small part of the Libyan sands.  Tektite is collectible by itself.  Some craftsman (unidentified and unplaced in time by Heritage Auctions) carved this piece into a cephalopod.

Taking an uncommonly large and clear specimen, the master lapidarist has carved the form of a malevolent-looking octopus, with superb rugose skin texture and a mass of curling tentacles. With a gorgeous translucence and lovely delicate green/yellow color, this exceptional sculpture measures 2¾ x 2 x 1¾ inches. Estimate: $2,800 – $3,200.

Compared to the giant articulated dinosaurs about 50 feet away from the display, one could easily overlook this little gem.  Still, bidding online looked to be pretty active.  Is P.Z. still in the British Isles?  Is he bidding by internet?  Is his Trophy Wife™ planning a Father’s Day surprise?

Tektites should pique your interest, Dear Reader.  Glass formed only when interplanetary objects smash into the planet, providing clues to the makeup of our solar system and universe, dating back well before recorded time, found in only a few fields around the Earth.  They are the perfect marriage-merger of geology, astronomy, geography, natural history, history and, in this case, art.   They are popular among collectors.    Who walks away with this one this afternoon?

Did Kennedy say it? Why is it on the minds of thinking people from Tehran to Madison?

February 21, 2011

Banner of Kennedy quote, Pueblo, Colorado, by Wavy1

Banner photographed by Wavy1 in Pueblo, Colorado, featuring quote from President John F. Kennedy

Stuck away from my library, I can’t confirm that John Kennedy actually said it, only that he is reputed to have said it:

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

[March 13, 1962, White House reception for Latin American diplomatic corps,
on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress]

The ruling families of Libya and Wisconsin pledge to fight to hold on to power, splitting their nations if necessary rather than concede to democratic forces.

Was Kennedy right?

(What did he really say, where and when?)

Photo of banner from Pueblo, Colorado, by Wavy1.

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