Archive for October, 2018

Just in Time for Halloween – “The World Bewitch’d”

This online exhibition from Cornell University examines the belief in witches that spread throughout Europe culminating in the killings of thousands of putative witches during the 16th and 17th centuries. Drawing on the largest collection of witchcraft works extant – Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection – (of which 104 English-language works are online), pages from selected works are presented highlighting both the reception of witches and measures taken to suppress them.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: INF Treaty

President Trump has announced that the United States is going to withdraw from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF. This agreement eliminated all missiles that had a range of between 300 miles and 3,000 miles, effectively stripping the European Theater of Operations from the threat of missile attack, whether of a conventional or nuclear nature.

There have been some reports that Russia was not abiding by the letter of the law; see Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress from CRS for an overview. Also, this proposed legislation – S.430 – Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Preservation Act of 2017.

Although of recent historical vintage, there are indeed valuable primary sources of information for those wishing to visit this topic.

Firstly,  read the treaty in its entirety along with its informative narrative.

Secondly, examine the hundreds of documents that have been selected to explain the diplomatic process. These are found in the valuable Foreign Relations of the United States series, especially Soviet Union, October 1986-January 1989, Volume VI , and read the preface to this volume that points to additional relevant volumes in this ongoing documentary project.

Thirdly, consult the National Security Archive for its “briefing book” – The INF Treaty and the Washington Summit: 20 Years Later that contains additional sources, including some from the Soviet side. This wonderful site also has numerous entries on the predecessor negotiations as well.

Fourthly, drop by the Wilson Center’s digital collections that were culled from disparate entities that have an impact on the present topic.

Fifthly, visit Georgetown University’s digital video collection containing then-contemporary interviews of some of the major players/analysts of the time from both the academic and governmental perspectives.

Sixthly, peruse statements, addresses, interviews of President Ronald Reagan (who was a key participant in this treaty) housed at the American Presidency Project.

And lastly (because I can’t bear the thought of writing “seventhly”), watch the various Congressional hearings on the INF courtesy of C-SPAN.

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Prominent Authors Discuss the Power and Importance of Libraries

Rather than have we librarians as the only proponents of an institution universally respected, herewith are a dozen authors touting the influence of libraries.

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Gateway Tunnel Video

For those interested in watching this video that has been in the news of late, here it is. This project is part of a comprehensive infrastructure program vital to the area’s economic viability; the full plan can be seen here. This Amtrak: Overview is most informative.

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What We Know About Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Although still rare, the news media have been concentrating on the spread of this disease. This CDC page presents a plethora of data and resources on AFM. Over one hundred medical articles are freely available from PubMed Central; included are literature reviews and surveillance studies.

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UNESCO History Series

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in an effort to counter the general levels of historical ignorance surrounding certain parts of the world, commissioned/sponsored multi-volumes works of history authored by native and non-native historians. (Here is a special issue of the UNESCO Courier focusing on this project.) These works have taken decades to produce; some of them are still ongoing.

At present, the following are freely available online:

Different Aspects of Islamic Culture

General History of Africa

History of Civilizations of Central Asia

History of Humanity (These are the volumes currently available in English) – vol. 3 (7th century BC – 7th century AD); vol. 5 (16th – 18th centuries); vol. 6 (19th century).

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Near-Term Effects of Climate Change

Many people have entered a space where they consider the ramifications of climate change in a future-world; however, the most recent report from the IPCC – Global Warming of 1.5 °C – shows that we have mere decades to ameliorate this situation.

A massive literature review reinforcing the various scenarios lends credence to this report, and puts climate change deniers in the unenviable position of having little to no research to substantiate their viewpoints.

As this report states:

“Warming of 1.5°C is not considered ‘safe’ for most nations, communities, ecosystems and sectors and poses significant risks to natural and human systems as compared to current warming of 1°C (high confidence) {Cross-Chapter Box 12 in Chapter 5}. The impacts of 1.5°C would disproportionately affect disadvantaged and vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements (medium evidence, high agreement) {5.2.1}. Some of the worst impacts on sustainable development are expected to be felt among agricultural and coastal dependent livelihoods, indigenous people, children and the elderly, poor labourers, poor urban dwellers in African cities, and people and ecosystems in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS)….” (Chapter 5, executive summary)

Not only does climate change affect the physical environment, but it also takes on toll on mental health. Please read: Climate Change and Mental Health (Union of Concerned Scientists); Climate Changes Mental Health (American Public Health Association); and Climate change and mental health: risks, impacts and priority actions (International Journal of Mental Health Systems).


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