Booty and books on board
Dead men tell no tales, but there’s new evidence that somebody aboard the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship harbored books among the booty. In an unusual find, researchers have discovered shreds of paper bearing legible printing that somehow survived three centuries underwater on the sunken vessel. And after more than a year of research that ranged as far Scotland, they managed to identify them as fragments of a book about nautical voyages published in the early 1700s. Conservators for Blackbeard’s ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge found the 16 fragments of paper wedged inside the chamber for a breech-loading cannon, with the largest piece being the size of a quarter. It’s possible someone just tore up the book for firepower. Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in Beaufort, in what was then the colony of North Carolina, in June 1718. Royal Navy volunteers killed Blackbeard in Ocracoke Inlet that year. In 1996, Florida research firm Intersal Inc. located the shipwreck off the North Carolina coast. To find paper in a 300-year-old shipwreck in warm waters is "almost unheard of," said Erik Farrell, a conservator at the QAR Conservation Lab in Greenville. It’s impossible to say who among the pirates and terrified captives aboard Blackbeard’s ship would have owned and read the voyage narrative. But some pirates were known to be literate, said Kimberly Kenyon, also a conservator at the Greenville lab. But the ability to read doesn’t change the character of pirates, who ransacked, raped and killed. "It just adds some nuance," Farrell said.
Critics warn new Trump office allows doctors to discriminate
The Trump administration announced Thursday a new federal office to protect medical providers refusing to participate in procedures on moral or religious grounds. Leading Democrats and LGBT groups denounced the move, saying "conscience protections" could become a license to discriminate, particularly against gay and transgender people. The description of the HHS’ religious and conscience division’s mandate cites abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide as procedures of which doctors could opt out. But the language is broad, and health experts said it appears likely to cover a host of other scenarios, such as treating transgender patients. Violations of provider protections can result in a service provider losing government funding. No new efforts to expand such protections were announced, but activists on both sides expect the Trump administration will try to broaden them. "They are prioritizing providers’ beliefs over patients’ health and lives," said the American Civil Liberties Union. Medical organizations and women’s and LGBT rights groups expressed concern that the policy would hurt vulnerable populations and create an unequal system of health care.
Neo-Nazi publisher in hiding dishes it out, can’t take it
Andrew Anglin operates a neo-Nazi website notorious for publishing personal information about the targets of its internet harassment campaigns. But The Daily Stormer’s publisher refused this week to publicly reveal where he is living, claiming he gets "credible" death threats. Anglin’s whereabouts are a key issue in a federal lawsuit that accuses him of using his website to orchestrate an anti-Semitic campaign against a Montana family. In a sworn statement Wednesday, Anglin says he has lived in Greece and Cambodia and still resides outside the United States. He says he moved to Cambodia four days before Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh sued him in April, accusing Anglin of invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and violating a state anti-intimidation law. Gersh’s suit says her family received a barrage of threats after Anglin’s articles urged readers to "take action" against her and other Jewish residents in Whitefish. In one, he encourages people to harass her in person. Anglin’s lawyers have argued the court must dismiss the case because Anglin is "not a citizen of any state." Gersh’s lawyers say that’s baseless and accuse Anglin of playing a "childish game of hide-and-seek" to avoid legal consequences. In arguing to not publicly reveal his whereabouts, Anglin’s sworn statement mentions "the ‘punch a Nazi’ movement" and a viral video that showed white nationalist Richard Spencer getting punched in the head.
Harvard’s Hasty Pudding honors forever young Paul Rudd
Actor and screenwriter Paul Rudd has been named 2018 Man of the Year by the nation’s oldest collegiate theatrical organization at Harvard University. Hasty Pudding said Thursday it is honoring Rudd because his career has spanned many genres, from indies to mainstream films, from heartfelt comedies to superheroes. Hasty Pudding president Amira Weeks said the entire organization is in awe of Rudd, "specifically, in his ability to have not aged since 1995." Rudd co-wrote and starred in Ant-Man and plays the lead in the upcoming The Catcher Was a Spy, the real-life story of ballplayer Moe Berg. Rudd will get his pudding pot during a roast at Harvard on Feb. 2. — tbt* wires