Earth Hour nears; candle industry rejoices!

Earth Hour, the annual worldwide homage to modern-day Luddites, is just around corner.

Earth Hour will take place at 8:30 p.m. on March 26. According to the Earth Hour website, Earth Hour involves people from across the world turning off their lights for an hour and coming together to contemplate “the one thing we all have in common – our planet.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of people who see through the simplistic platitudes of these technophobes. They include Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist who specializes in environmental economics and policy analysis.

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Was British plot to kill Lenin afoot in 1918?

More than 90 years after the British government was accused of trying to kill Vladimir Lenin and head off his fledgling Bolsheviks regime before it could become entrenched in Russian politics – an allegation long denied as Soviet propaganda – new evidence has arisen that suggests the accusation might have been true.

In part due to information found in American archives, it appears a scheme to assassinate Lenin may not have been baseless rumor, as British officials have suggested for decades.

First, some background. By early 1918, Russian Czar Nicholas II had abdicated, the provisional Russian government had been overthrown by the Bolsheviks under Lenin and, in a bid to extract itself from the costly First World War, the Soviets were negotiating a peace treaty with Imperial Germany. 

“This did not please London,” according to the BBC. “The move would enable Berlin – which had been fighting a war on two fronts – to reinforce its forces in the West.”

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Unknown van Dyke painting found in Spain

Spanish art experts Thursday revealed the existence of a previously unknown work by Flemish Baroque artist Anthony van Dyck.

The work is “The Virgin and Child with Repentant Sinners” and depicts the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms watched by Mary Magdalene, King David and the Prodigal Son.

It had lain in warehouse of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid for more than a century and was long believed to be a copy of a work done by the 17th century master, said an official with the museum.

But restorers began last July with a painstaking study of the work using pigment and X-ray analysis, and confirmed it to be the work of van Dyck, the official said, according to Agence France-Presse.

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Small California town a tsunami magnet

In the wake of last week’s earthquake in Japan and subsequent tsunami that reached all the way to North America, Slate came up with an interesting article on why the small California community of Crescent City has been visited by so many tsunamis over the years – 31 alone since 1933.

If you haven’t been to California and don’t know where Crescent City is, you’re not alone. Ninety-nine percent of Californians likely haven’t been to Crescent City, and many couldn’t identify its location on a map if they had to.

Crescent City sits just 20 miles from the Oregon border and is located more than 700 miles from Los Angeles.

Of the more than 30 recorded tsunamis that have hit Crescent City in the past eight decades, four caused damage, and one of them, in March 1964, remains the “largest and most destructive recorded tsunami to ever strike the United States Pacific Coast,” according to the University of Southern California’s Tsunami Research Center.

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Dutch discover sunken World War I sub

The Dutch navy announced this week it has discovered the wreck of the U-106, a German World War I submarine lost in October 1917.

The Dutch had kept the find a secret until relatives of those killed on board were traced and notified, UPI reported.

The U-boat was found in October 2009 by HNLMS Snellius, which was engaged in charting the sea about 40 miles north off Terschelling Island, one of the West Frisian Islands off the coast of the Netherlands.

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Grapes of wrath ain’t bad when you’re thirsty

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek highlights just a single passage from Deirdre McCloskey’s book Bourgeois Dignity and it’s more than enough to pique my interest:

When the Soviet authorities during the 1940s exhibited the 1940 movie The Grapes of Wrath as evidence of how miserable the poor were in capitalist America, it backfired. What amazed the Soviet audiences was that the Joad family fled starvation by car.

I can recall reading a book years ago about Gulag prisoners sent in the late 1940s or early ’50s to log some desolate area of Siberia who came across different communities of ethnic minorities that had been relocated by Soviet authorities decades before.

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Texas wants Alamo flag back from Mexico

A Texas television station is reporting that ongoing efforts to recover what is possibly the only remaining flag known to have flown during the legendary Battle of the Alamo have so far proven fruitless.

For the past 80 years the 4-foot by 3-foot silk banner emblazoned with the words “FIRST COMPANY OF TEXAN VOLUNTEERS FROM NEW ORLEANS” has been on display in Mexico, where it was taken as war booty following the famous 1836 battle .

The latest effort to get it back to the Lone Star State is being led by State Representative John Zerwas, television station KDFW reported.

Zerwas has filed a bill to encourage Governor Rick Perry to work on the flag’s return, even if it’s on a temporary basis, the station added.

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