Caravaggio: finding or tourism?

A team of researchers claims to have identified the remains of the painter and that he died in the Spanish fort of Porto Ercole

MIGUEL MORA (English Translation)

The monument to Caravaggio in Porto Ercole (Toscana) is a motley group of sculptures made of wrought iron. It contains a huge sword, the bars of a cell, a Maltese cross, a blanket spread on the floor, and a corner stone monolith do not know what doing there. Not easy to find a charm. But the song has its meaning is located on the mass grave where 1956 were found human bones that now, after a year of historical research combined with DNA testing and carbon-14, seem to have finally solved a mystery 400 years of age.

Nobody knew until now how he died and was buried where the gambler, murderer and cantankerous genius of chiaroscuro (Milan, 1571-1610). The unknown local historian of Porto Ercole, Alessandro Ferrini, a retired magician who has spent years chasing the trail of the painter, had a theory. And surely the most is near the truth.

The investigation of this modest man, a former merchant marine captain who is defined as “dilettante historian, gave the scientific team coordinated by the Indiana Jones Italian Silvano Vinceti a solid basis for research.

Porto Ercole es un lugar con historia : this small natural harbor was Spanish military garrison for more than two centuries. Today 3,200 people live here and its more than 1,000 waterfront dock yachts and sailboats. There are only a few hotels, but it will take longer if the relic is finally here Caravaggio. So far, 3 July there will be a temporary exhibition.

As we walk down the street Caravaggio, Ferrini’s telling the details of the story. “The church of San Sebastian was just at this point,” he says, pointing to the laundry near the monument. “One day I found the file diocesan bishop’s letter dated in 1629 that ordered the priest to take out the bones of the church and put in a common grave. There we find the bones.”

His hypothesis about the last days of Caravaggio would to a great novel. “I think it died in the Spanish fort of San Filippo after a couple of days of agony. In 1555, the Spanish and Florentine occupied the town. It was like Gibraltar, was full of spies and the boats that went from Naples to Genoa always stopped here. On Monday, July 12, 1610 had taken a boat in Naples. He was loaded with his belongings and his paintings, “he explains. “I went to Rome, where he hoped that the Pope pardoned of his death sentence. The last pictures he had painted in Naples, two of John and Mary Magdalene were the payment of a pardon.”

But Caravaggio did not come to Rome. “The first stop was Palo from Naples. Upon arrival, Caravaggio was arrested and spent two days in jail. The pictures were left on board. He paid for his freedom to the jailer. On leaving, thinking that the route would have continued sailing northward He walked to Civitavecchia, and then by boat to Porto Ercole. He had to get off at a nearby beach. The Spanish guards found him and took him to the fort to see that it was also a famous artist and Knight of the Spanish King. I was very sick was very hot, and on day 18 died. septicemia probably because of the stabbing he received in the face a few weeks before. “

Nicolas Sarkozy bans taxpayer-funded jets and Cuban cigars

Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered France’s politicians to “vigorously reduce” their spending after a string of recent scandals.

Telegraph – Henry Samuel in Paris

Anxious to be seen to reduce public outgoings while the rest of the country suffers from austerity measures, President Sarkozy demanded that “everyone makes an effort” in his government, consigning taxpayer-funded Cuban cigars, luxury jets, five-star hotels and presidential hunts to history.

From now on, ministers will have to foot the bill for private spending instead of dipping into the public purse. Some 10,000 official cars and 7,000 official flats are to be axed in the next three years, and ministers are being asked to “prefer rail transport” wherever possible.

Having cancelled his own summer party at the Elysée this year, the President insisted in a letter to the prime minister yesterday that ministers followed suit.

“I have decided that lifestyle of the state be vigorously reduced,” he wrote. “The state must, more than ever, display exemplariness”.

… Among the abuses, the secretary of state for the Greater Paris region, Christian Blanc, spent €12,000 (£9,759) of taxpayers’ money on Havana cigars. Last week he was ordered to pay the state back.

France’s state secretary for overseas development, Alain Joyandet also caused outrage after spending €116,500 chartering a private jet to attend a conference in Martinique. From now on, private jets can only be used with the prime minister’s approval.

The abusive use of free ministerial flats is also facing the chop after revelations that two ministers were letting relatives stay in their official flats – one of which came complete with a personal valet and cook.

Economists said the measures were symbolically important but would do almost nothing to dent the state’s economic woes.

“We’re talking about a few dozen million euros,” said Elie Cohen, a prominent economist. “It’s paltry compared to the €100 billion the state must find to reduce state deficits”. But, he added, the cuts were “necessary” given the political climate…

Research 2000: Problems in plain sight

DK – By kos

A bit over two weeks ago, a group of statistic wizards (Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman) approached me with a disturbing premise — they had been poring over the crosstabs of the weekly Research 2000 polling we had been running, and were concerned that the numbers weren’t legit.

I immediately began cooperating with their investigation, which concluded late last week. Daily Kos furnished the researchers with all available and relevant information in our possession, and we made every attempt to obtain R2K’s cooperation — which, as I detail in my reaction post here — was not forthcoming.  The investigators’ report is below, but its conclusion speaks volumes:

We do not know exactly how the weekly R2K results were created, but we are confident they could not accurately describe random polls.

Related:  Politico – Poll scandal sends campaign shockwaves

How Elena Kagan helped “queer” Harvard Law School

Will she now help “queer” the US Supreme Court’s decisions?

MassResistance By Amy Contrada and Brian Camenker

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is committed to the radical campaign pushing acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism as “civil rights.” Her unprecedented activism supporting that view as Dean of Harvard Law School (2003-2009) calls into question her ability to judge fairly and impartially on same-sex “marriage” and other homosexuality- or transgender-related issues that may come before the nation’s highest court.

Kagan’s record while Dean of Harvard Law School (HLS) demonstrates her agreement with the goals of the radical GLBT (gay lesbian bisexual transgender) movement and her solidarity with those activists. Working hand in hand with students to expel military recruiters in protest over the Armed Forces’ ban on homosexuals (a “moral injustice of the first order,” she wrote) is only the most obvious example of Kagan’s passionate dedication to this controversial and immoral agenda.

Kagan’s celebration and active promotion of the radical homosexualist and transgender worldview has profound implications. As a Supreme Court Justice, she could be expected to overturn traditional law and understandings of family, marriage, military order, and even our God-given sex (what transgender radicals call “gender identity or expression”). She is a most dangerous nominee who must be opposed by all who care about religious freedom, the preservation of marriage and traditional values.

There should be grave concern over Kagan’s issues advocacy concerning “sexual orientation.” Even before her nomination to the Court, her enthusiastic and committed pro-homosexuality activism at Harvard (including her recruitment to the faculty of radical “gay” activist scholars like former ACLU lawyer William Rubenstein and elevation of radical out lesbian Professor Janet Halley) was highly significant for the nation.

Now, it is imperative that Senators and the U.S. public gain an accurate understanding of the radical, pro-homosexual environment that was Kagan’s home at Harvard – and the GLBT legal agenda that Kagan herself helped foster as Dean. Kagan did her best to change a generation of Harvard-educated lawyers. Will she do the same to America?…]

A Senator’s Shame

Byrd, in His New Book, Again Confronts Early Ties to KKK

Washington Post – By Eric Pianin, Sunday, June 19, 2005

In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the “Grand Dragon” for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter.

As Byrd recalls now, the Klan official, Joel L. Baskin of Arlington, Va., was so impressed with the young Byrd’s organizational skills that he urged him to go into politics. “The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation,” Baskin said.

The young Klan leader went on to become one of the most powerful and enduring figures in modern Senate history. Throughout a half-century on Capitol Hill, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) has twice held the premier leadership post in the Senate, helped win ratification of the Panama Canal treaty, squeezed billions from federal coffers to aid his home state, and won praise from liberals for his opposition to the war in Iraq and his defense of minority party rights in the Senate.

Despite his many achievements, however, the venerated Byrd has never been able to fully erase the stain of his association with one of the most reviled hate groups in the nation’s history.

“It has emerged throughout my life to haunt and embarrass me and has taught me in a very graphic way what one major mistake can do to one’s life, career, and reputation,” Byrd wrote in a new memoir — “Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields” — that will be published tomorrow by West Virginia University Press…

West Virginia has been embroiled in issues of race and civil rights from its inception at the start of the Civil War, when 55 western mountain counties with few slaves seceded from Virginia. From the beginning, the rich veins of bituminous coal beneath rugged mountain ranges drove the state’s economy, and attracted workers from throughout Appalachia and immigrants from as far away as Eastern and Southern Europe. Few blacks settled in the state, and even today African Americans constitute little more than 3 percent of the population.

A world away from many of the millionaires who inhabit the Senate, Byrd grew up poor but proud during the Depression, with a stunning work ethic and a hunger to learn. Born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr. in North Wilkesboro, N.C., on Nov. 20, 1917, the future senator was a year old when his mother died of influenza. In accordance with her wishes, his father dispersed the children among family members. Young Cornelius was sent to live with an uncle and aunt, Titus and Vlurma Byrd, who settled in southern West Virginia. The Byrds adopted their young nephew and renamed him Robert C. Byrd.

Byrd recalls in his book that when he was a small boy, his adoptive father, a coal miner, left him with a friend in Matoaka, W.Va., one Saturday while he went to participate in a parade. Watching from the window, young Byrd saw people dressed in white hoods and robes and wearing white masks over their faces. Some years later, he wrote, he learned that his father had been a member of the Klan and took part in the parade.

His parents and the boarders who lived with them inculcated Byrd in “the typical southern viewpoint of the time,” he wrote. “Blacks were generally distrusted by many whites, and I suspect they were subliminally feared.”

West Virginia was never considered a hotbed of Klan activity, as were states in the Deep South, but it had its share of violence against blacks and immigrants. Forty-eight people, including 28 blacks, were lynched in West Virginia, mostly during the late 1880s and early 1900s, according to the Tuskegee University archives.

The last two reported lynchings occurred on Dec. 10, 1931, in Lewisburg, W.Va. By the time Byrd began organizing for the Klan during World War II, the organization had largely morphed into a money-making fraternal organization that was virulently anti-black, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic.

Married, with two daughters, Byrd developed a network of friends and associates while working as a meat cutter. He wrote that he became “caught up with the idea of being part of an organization to which ‘leading’ persons belonged.”

Byrd’s book offers a truncated description of his days with the Klan that does not completely square with contemporaneous newspaper accounts and letters that show he was involved with the Klan throughout much of the 1940s, and not merely for two or three years.

According to his book, Byrd wrote to Samuel Green, an Atlanta doctor and “Imperial Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, in late 1941 or early 1942, expressing interest in joining. Some time later, he received the letter from Baskin, the “Grand Dragon” of mid-Atlantic states, saying he would come to Byrd’s home in Crab Orchard whenever Byrd had rounded up 150 recruits for the Klan.

When Baskin finally arrived, the group gathered at the home of C.M. “Clyde” Goodwin, a former local law enforcement official. When it came time to choose the “Exalted Cyclops,” the top officer in the local Klan unit, Byrd won unanimously.

Byrd asserts that his Klan chapter never engaged in or preached violence, “nor did we conduct any parades or marches or other public demonstrations” — other than one time delivering a wreath of flowers in the shape of a cross to the home of a member who had been killed in a pistol duel.

Byrd wrote that he continued as a “Kleagle” recruiting for the Klan until early 1943, when he and his family left Crab Orchard for a welding job in a Baltimore shipyard. Returning to West Virginia after World War II ended in 1945, he launched his political career, but not before writing another letter, to one of the Senate’s most notorious segregationists, Theodore Bilbo (D-Miss.), complaining about the Truman administration’s efforts to integrate the military.

Byrd said in the Dec. 11, 1945, letter — which would not become public for 42 more years with the publication of a book on blacks in the military during World War II by author Graham Smith — that he would never fight in the armed forces “with a Negro by my side.” Byrd added that, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels.”

With the help of fiddle-playing skills that became his political trademark for decades, Byrd won election to the state legislature, where he served in both chambers until he ran for the U.S. House in 1952. His political career almost ended there, however, when his opponents revealed his former ties to the KKK.

Confronting the issue, Byrd went on the radio to acknowledge that he belonged to the Klan from “mid-1942 to early 1943,” according to newspaper accounts. He explained that he had joined “because it offered excitement and because it was strongly opposed to communism.” He said that after about a year, he quit and dropped his membership, and never was interested in the Klan again.

Byrd won the primary, but during the general election campaign, Byrd’s GOP opponent uncovered a letter Byrd had handwritten to Green, the KKK Imperial Wizard, recommending a friend as a Kleagle and urging promotion of the Klan throughout the country. The letter was dated 1946 — long after the time Byrd claimed he had lost interest in the Klan. “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia,” Byrd wrote, according to newspaper accounts of that period. Byrd makes no mention of the letter in his new book.

Stunned Democratic state party officials, including then-Gov. Okey L. Patteson, urged him to drop out of the race. Byrd survived the ensuing political firestorm, won the general election and went on to serve six years in the House before winning his Senate seat in 1958. During his Senate campaign, he told a newspaper reporter that he personally felt the Klan had been incorrectly blamed for many acts committed by others.

Byrd’s life story is one of political transformation and redemption as he evolved from a redneck politician to a mainstream Democrat in a party dominated by liberals. But there was no way for him to completely bury his Klan ties, and his past would resurface time and again throughout his career.

During the 1960 presidential campaign, Byrd, who was closely allied with then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (Tex.), tried to derail the Democratic front-runner, Sen. John F. Kennedy (Mass.), in the crucial West Virginia primary. At Johnson’s urging, Byrd supported Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (Minn.) in the primary. Kennedy allies retaliated with leaks to the press about Byrd’s work as a Klan organizer. Byrd said in his book that as a result he received hate mail and threats on his life.

Four years later, Byrd’s Klan past became an issue again when he joined with other southern Democrats to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byrd filibustered the bill for more than 14 hours as he argued that it abrogated principles of federalism. He criticized most anti-poverty programs except for food stamps. And in 1967, he voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointed to the Supreme Court.

Related:  RCP Video:  Clinton Defends Byrd’s KKK Ties: “He Was Trying To Get Elected”

‘Russia spy’ Anna Chapman’s husband: I thought I knew her

When Alex Chapman caught sight of Anna Kushchenko across a crowded dance floor in 2001, he was overtaken by a giddying belief that he would spend the rest of his life with “the most beautiful girl I had ever seen”.

…”she had turned her back on her “carefree” bohemian lifestyle and suddenly became obsessed with money and moving to America.

He told The Daily Telegraph of his suspicions that she was being “conditioned” by shadowy contacts at the time their marriage broke down in 2005. “There was such a dramatic change in the way she thought and the way she went about things, I felt I hardly knew her any more,” said public school-educated Mr Chapman.

“It was like someone having a midlife crisis, but in their 20s. She would arrange to go out but when I said I would join her she told me not to bother because they would all be speaking Russian. She was adamant I wasn’t to meet them.

“She had never been materialistic during the years we were together, but in 2005 and 2006 after she started having these meetings with people she referred to as ‘Russian friends’, she was transformed into someone with access to a lot of money, boasting about all the influential people she was meeting.”

Mr Chapman, a trainee psychologist, said his wife had confided to him that her domineering father Vasily, 53, had been a senior KGB agent, and he felt “she would do anything for her dad”.

“Her dad was scary. He was very concerned about which direction my life was going, how I was going to ‘earn my money’. Anna told me he worked as a diplomat for the Russian government. It was only much later that she told me he had been a KGB agent.”

After their honeymoon the couple rented a flat in Stoke Newington, north London, where they set up a charity called Southern Union, enabling Zimbabwean expats to wire money back home at competitive exchange rates. It was financed by a millionaire South African friend of Anna’s father who took commission on the transfers.

For the next two years the Chapmans lived quietly, with Anna shuttling to and from Russia to finish her economics master’s degree, graduating with first class honours in 2004. “Anna was an extremely passionate, caring and loving woman,” said Mr Chapman. “She is also extremely intelligent — she has an IQ of 162 and it showed, because she was able to juggle so many things at once and make them a success.’’

Navy warns Marines about Russian spy: Beware of women this hot