Vatican Publicly Reveals Bone Fragments Believed to be St. Peter’s


Bone fragments said to belong to St. Peter, the first pope, and previously exhibited solely for the pope were on public display for the first time at a Vatican mass Sunday.

Pope Francis prayed before the bones, which were revealed in a bronze case near the alter at a mass celebrating the end of the Year of Faith in St. Peter’s Square, the Associated Press reports.

The remains were discovered in a monument unearthed during an excavation of St. Peter’s Basilica after the death Pope Pius XI in 1939. The divisive relics have long been a source of debate, with some archeologists and theologians vehemently denying their legitimacy.


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Paul Strand | A Photographer You Should Know

Photofocus (old site)

Editor’s Note: This is an update of a profile written by Scott Bourne.
Today I’d like to talk about one of my personal favorites and a man whose work I admire to this day – Paul Strand.

Paul Strand lived from 1890 until 1976. He was peer to giants like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston. While Alfred Stieglitz should probably get the most credit for this, Strand helped establish photography as a legitimate art form in the 20th century.

Can you imagine a portfolio with pictures covering 60 years? Strand did that. He had a lucky start. Like many of the great photographers, he had a good mentor. Lewis Hine was a well-known documentary photographer and he was Strand’s teacher. His modernist approach to photography had a big impact on strand.

Strand’s street photography, his fascination with photographing machines and his documentary work in New York from 1910 to 1915…

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The Chinese Communist Party’s Biggest Obstacle Is the Chinese Communist Party


A fascinating conundrum embroiled the top leaders of China’s Communist Party in response to the protests that escalated on Tiananmen Square in the summer of 1989. Could the country’s nascent free-market reform succeed without matching political freedom? Deng Xiaoping, the grandfather of Chinese reform, argued that political opening would undermine the economic progress China had made.

If the protests were not quelled, he warned (according to The Tiananmen Papers), “all our gains will evaporate, and China will take a historic step backward.”

Zhao Ziyang, the party general secretary, thought otherwise. Soon after the troubling events, he made the case that political and economic change were inseparable. “Political reform has to be a priority,” Zhao said, and if it wasn’t, “not only will economic problems get harder to handle, but all kinds of social and political problems will only get worse.”

We all know who won the debate. And still…

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Are China and Japan Inching Closer to War Over a Few Disputed Islets?


The announcement came on a weekend, just as the world’s attention was diverted by tense negotiations toward an Iranian nuclear deal. On Saturday, Nov. 23, Beijing announced “aircraft-identification rules” for an “East China Sea air-defense identification zone” that includes the skies over a scattering of rocks that China calls the Diaoyu.

Japan, which currently administers the outcroppings and uses the name Senkaku to refer to the contested territory, has cried foul. On Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo refused to recognize Beijing’s division of the heavens. “It was a one-sided action and cannot be allowed,” Kishida said, warning that Beijing’s move was “expected to trigger unpredictable events.”

The rules mean that Beijing now requires aircraft flying through this patch of sky to report their flight plans to Chinese authorities, remain in radio contact with them and make their nationalities and logos clear. “China’s armed forces will…

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