Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lance Armstrong Doping Controversy

Lance Armstrong  had until 8 PM Mountain Time on August 23, 2012, to respond to the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) allegations that he took performance enhancing drugs and transfused his own blood to increase his red blood cell count (known as blood doping) during his career as a professional cyclist. On the day of the deadline a weary Armstrong released an official statement saying that, "Enough is enough." Maintaining his innocence, Armstrong stated he would not fight the charges and asserted that the arbitration panel was rigged to find him guilty.

Armstrong had had until the deadline to either contest the allegations through an arbitration hearing or accept the charges and associated penalties. According to USADA's mandate, by not seeking an arbitration hearing, Armstrong accepted the charges. On August 24, USADA moved to strip Armstrong of all results dating back to 1998 including his seven Tour de France wins. Armstrong also received a lifetime ban from competing in cycling

The entire process offers insight into the complicated, and often bureaucratic, world of international sports governance, as well as the continuing controversy over the use, testing, and punishment for banned substances in sports.

When the USADA initially announced that it had evidence against him in June, Armstrong challenged the USADA's jurisdiction, leading to a brief legal battle between Armstrong, the International Cycling Union (UCI, cycling's governing body), USADA, and USA Cycling (the U.S. Governing body for cycling).  He argued that USADA was denying him his right to due process. Furthermore, he argued that USADA did not have jurisdiction over him in this case, but the International Cycling Union (UCI) did. The UCI backed Armstrong.

While expressing surprise that the national and international sports bodies could not cooperate, the judge in the case ruled that the U.S. courts did not have jurisdiction to make a decision and the USADA was free to proceed.

While a hero to many fans who admire his impressive record and courageous battle with cancer, Armstrong has also faced constant scrutiny from the press since his early days of winning and has been forced to fend off doping allegations that have been leveled against him by former teammates, journalists, and associates. The UCI and the organizers of the Tour de France refused to comment initially on the USADA's decision. How his fans and historians will ultimately judge Armstrong's legacy remains to be seen.

ABC-CLIO has had several titles that have analyzed the accusations against Armstrong in great detail as well as the history of doping in sports.

In Dope: A History of Performance Enhancement in Sports from theNineteenth Century to Today, (2008, Praeger/ABC-CLIO), Daniel M. Rosen discusses Armstrong's legacy. Rosen analyzes not just the rise of drugs and doping methods, he also looks at the governing bodies that were developed to combat performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong himself has faced repeated allegations that he doped even well into retirement. Rosen addresses suspicions about Armstrong's first Tour de France win in 1999.

When Lance Armstrong won his seventh and final Tour de France, he gave a brief retirement speech in which he addressed the oft-repeated accusations that he could only have accomplished what he did through artificial means. “I want to send a message to people who do not believe in cycling, the cynics, skeptics. I am sorry that they do not believe in miracles, in dreams. Too bad for them,” Armstrong said on July 24, 2005, immediately after being awarded his final maillot jaune (the yellow jersey, the symbol of the Tour de France leader).
Just one month later, articles published in the French sports daily L’Equipe charged that Armstrong had used EPO when he won his first Tour in 1999. Armstrong had long been suspected of doping by various European publications, despite his firm denials, and L’Equipe claimed to have scientific proof that the seven-time Tour winner had used banned substances.
Armstrong quickly released a statement on his Web site vehemently denying the accusations against him. “Yet again, a European newspaper has reported that I have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs,” Armstrong's statement read. “L’Equipe, a French sports daily, is reporting that my 1999 samples were positive. Unfortunately the witch hunt continues and [their] article is nothing short of tabloid journalism. 
“The paper even admits in its own article that the science in question here is faulty and that I have no way to defend myself. They state: ‘There will therefore be no counter-exam nor regulatory prosecutions, in a strict sense, since defendant's rights cannot be respected.’ “I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance enhancing drugs."
Damien Ressiott, L’Equipe's reporter on the doping beat, had gotten hold of documents from France's antidoping laboratory, LNDD, which purported to show that Armstrong and several other cyclists had positive test results for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The material Ressiott gathered included the results of tests conducted on old urine samples left over from the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France. LNDD claimed that the testing, performed in 2004, was research geared toward improving the urine test for the banned drug. Among the samples tested were six that appeared to belong to Armstrong, all of which—according to the documents—showed traces of synthetic EPO in his system. The revelation caused an immediate uproar.
Jean-Marie Leblanc, the director of the Tour de France, told L’Equipe that he felt shocked and “morally betrayed” by Armstrong, and went on to say, “It couldn't be expected, even from a controversial personality like Lance Armstrong, who has aroused both suspicion and admiration [over the years]."
In response, Chris Carmichael, Armstrong's trainer and friend for more than fifteen years, said, “There are always those who will try to destroy Lance. The attempt byL’Equipe being the latest example. Lance has always been one of those who has suffered most from [doping] controls. I have known Lance for the past fifteen years and he has never tested positive for the simple reason that he has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs.”
Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called the charges “serious” if the story was proven to be true. But he also noted that the events took place four months before WADA was formed, and that most likely it was the responsibility of the UCI and USA Cycling to handle the matter. Still, he said that the agency would carefully consider its options in the case. Pound added that athletes tempted to cheat should learn from the story. “It is a lesson for anyone who uses performance-enhancing drugs,” the WADA chief told L’Equipe, “sooner or later the truth will be known."
Jacques de Ceaurriz, LNDD's director told the French sports daily that the tests were done anonymously because the lab does not have any information about whose samples they are testing. He went on to say, “It was not a doping control. These tests were conducted as part of a scientific research. Our objective was to develop the test and decision criteria. But all this was part of a research program much broader, we seek to construct a mathematical model for detecting EPO. We should also remember that the samples were taken in 1999, one year before the first official use of our detection test for EPO, at the Olympic Games in Sydney. On the Tour de France, our method was applied starting in 2001.” De Ceaurriz went on to tell the newspaper that the lab's test was reliable, and that there was no doubt about the validity of the results.
Armstrong, however, did not trust the lab. Speaking on CNN's “Larry King Live,” he said, “A guy in a Parisian laboratory opens up your sample, you know, Jean Francois so-and-so, and he tests it—nobody's there to observe, no protocol was followed—and then you get a call from a newspaper that says ‘We found you to be positive six times for EPO.’ Well, since when did newspapers start governing sports?”
Over the coming months, various officials suggested that Armstrong be sanctioned for doping. But as the cyclist noted, and Jacques de Ceaurriz reiterated, the tests weren't carried out as doping tests. There was one other not so minor problem with respect to prosecuting the seven-time Tour winner for a doping violation. Under the WADA antidoping code, to charge an athlete with a doping offense, there must be a backup sample available for counteranalysis. This requirement exists to protect athletes from false positive results. Should the counteranalysis not confirm the initial results, there is no doping violation to prosecute.
In Armstrong's case, there was no backup sample. The samples tested by LNDD had been the backup samples from tests conducted in 1998 and 1999, which would have (and according to rules in place at the time should have) otherwise been destroyed. There was no more material to test, so the results couldn't be confirmed by another round of lab work. From a legal point of view, no disciplinary action could be taken against the seven-time Tour champion. But many continued to ask: What should be done about Armstrong's alleged positive results?
By early October 2005, the accusations and counteraccusations from various organizations reached such a fever pitch that the UCI commissioned Emile Vrijman, a lawyer who had run the Dutch antidoping agency for ten years, as an independent investigator to look into the case, including the leaks of confidential information such as Armstrong's test results. Over the next eight months, Vrijman, with assistance from Dr. Adriaan van der Veen and Paul Scholten, collected all of the UCI's information related to the case. Vrijman also requested and received information from a number of other sources during the course of their research.
While both Vrijman and Scholten are attorneys, Dr. van der Veen is an expert in the application of the International Standards Organization's ISO 17025/1999 standards to laboratories, with particular expertise in the application of this international standard to antidoping laboratories. At the end of May 2006, Vrijman and his panel released a 130-page report. In the report, he found that the retrospective testing of stored samples for the purposes of determining a doping violation was not specifically included in the World Anti-Doping Code, as written in 2003. Vrijman's report also criticized LNDD and their handling of the testing, as well as noting concerns about the security of information at the lab.
In his conclusions, Vrijman indicated that while the testing of Armstrong's and the other cyclists’ urine samples may have been suitable for research purposes, it was clear that the proper antidoping testing protocols and procedures had not been followed. Therefore, the results did not prove any doping violations. The report went further, saying, “Had the LNDD conducted its testing in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations and reported its findings accordingly, any discussion about the alleged use of a prohibited substance by Lance Armstrong would not have taken place. Having concluded thus, the investigator however, would like to stress that ultimately it has been WADA's improper request to the LNDD—i.e. to include ‘additional information’ in its report—which has triggered the chain of events leading to the publication of said allegations in L’Equipe and subsequently this report.”
The report also contains numerous criticisms of the UCI, WADA, and LNDD, including that WADA and LNDD “behaved in ways that are completely inconsistent with the rules and regulations of international anti-doping control testing.” The report's authors went so far as to say that WADA's and LNDD's behavior may have also been illegal.
When it became public, neither the UCI nor WADA was pleased with the result. Dick Pound, the head of WADA, said, “The Vrijman report is so lacking in professionalism and objectivity that it borders on farcical. Were the matter not so serious and the allegations it contains so irresponsible, we would be inclined to give it the complete lack of attention it deserves.”
Lance Armstrong, however, released a statement that said, “Although I am not surprised by the report's findings, I am pleased that they confirm what I have been saying since this witch-hunt began: Dick Pound, WADA, the French laboratory, the French Ministry of Sport, L’Equipe, and the Tour de France organizers (ASO) have been out to discredit and target me without any basis and falsely accused me of taking performance enhancing drugs in 1999. Today's comprehensive report makes it clear that there is no truth to that accusation.”
The report did not explain how L’Equipe's reporter Damien Ressiot received information about Armstrong's test results, and from whom he received it. In part, this may have been because both the lab and WADA refused to cooperate with the UCI's independent investigation. Vrijman suggested that a tribunal be formed to look into the matter and determine what, if any, sanctions should be levied against the organizations named in his report.
In the end, only one person connected to the scandal received any sort of reprimand or punishment. Mario Zorzoli, the UCI doctor who apparently gave copies of Armstrong's doping control forms to the French newspaper, was suspended from his duties for one month in the early part of 2006, but was subsequently reinstated. No action, to date, has been taken against any LNDD staff members for violating Armstrong's confidentiality by releasing the test results to L’Equipe's reporter. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Interview with Karen Juanita Carrillo, Author of African American History Day by Day

Karen Juanita Carrillo, a Brooklyn, New York-based award-winning writer and photographer, specializes in African American and Afro-Latino history, literature, and politics.  She is the winner of several journalism awards, including the National Newspaper Publisher Association's "Perspectives Reporting Award" (2002) for coverage of the impact of 9/11 on African American communities, the New California Media Awards in the "Civil Liberties" category (2003), the New York Association of Black Journalists' first prize award for "General / Sport News" (2005), and the NYABJ's second place prize for "International News" (2008).  She is the author of Greenwood's new release African American History Day by Day. We sat down with her recently to find out more about this project.

What prompted you to write African American History Day by Day? What "message" do you want to communicate?

I have always been interested in African American history and initially, on my own, I used to take notes about important people and events.  As I collected more and more information, it was just natural for me to start putting it together in a book form.  

I hope that the book communicates the idea that people of African descent are an integral part of U.S. history and that we can be celebrated for our achievements not only during Black History Month – in February – but every day of the year.

What was the highlight of your research? In the course of your research, what discovery surprised you the most? What surprises readers/others the most about your research?

While I always knew that there was much to be proud of about African American history, it’s been amazing for me to truly, methodically understand the depths of misery many Black people lived through and the hard work and patience they manifested in working to end their misery. 

Some of the most impressive stories I learned while writing include: 

the one about Ellen Craft and her husband, William, who disguised themselves to escape from their enslavement in Georgia in 1848.  Ellen dressed herself up so that she would look like a white male enslaver while her husband, William, masqueraded as her servant.  They made it to the North, opened their own business, and became important abolitionist speakers.  They fled to England in 1850 after the Fugitive Slave Law was enacted in the U.S. and from there published the book, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom. They only returned to the U.S. after the Civil War and went straight back to Georgia where they bought some 1,800 acres of land and established the Woodville Co-operative Farm School to educate formerly enslaved people of African descent. 
the story of Mathilda Taylor Beasley who opened a secret school in Savannah, Georgia which taught African American children to read at a time when doing so was a crime.  After marrying a free Black man named Abraham Beasley who owned land and property, Mathilda was widowed when Beasley died and she went on to become a nun.  She would use her wealth to found the Third Order of St. Francis, the state of Georgia’s first order of African American nuns; and donated Abraham’s land and properties to the Roman Catholic Church in return for support for her creation of the St. Francis Home for Colored Orphans.  The Mother Mathilda Beasley Society in Savannah, Georgia continues Mother Mathilda’s work. 
there’s the story of Dr. Miles Vandahurst Lynk who published The Medical and Surgical Observer, the nation’s first African American medical journal in 1892.  Lynk, whose parents had both been enslaved, was also the co-founder of the National Medical Association for African American Physicians and in 1900 he founded the University of West Tennessee. 
and the story of George Thomas Downing whose famous father, Thomas, was one of the founders of the all-Black United Anti-Slavery Society of the City of New York as well as the owner of the Downing Oyster House.  In fact, Thomas funded most of his anti-slavery efforts with the income he made from his Oyster House – a place frequented by New York City’s wealthy.  George Thomas Downing opened his own Oyster House in Newport, Rhode Island and also took part in anti-slavery activities.

How did your research change your outlook on African Americans?

If anything has changed, I just have a clearer understanding that there isn’t anything we cannot accomplish, once we put our minds to it.  

How have people reacted to your book and/or the ideas you set forth? Is it what you hoped for, or is there more work to be done?

There’s been a lot of interest from people who are just hungry for this kind of information about the African American experience.  I have been happy to see that my interest in this subject is not unusual: lots of people want to know more about Black history, they just don’t know where to turn to in order to find the information.

What's next for you?

I am looking forward to expanding how people view the historical contributions of people of African descent throughout the Americas.  I am working on a book that looks at how Afro Latinos have contributed to the countries and the evolution of the various societies of Latin America

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Excerpt from Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency

David Galula is considered by many to be the most influential classical thinker on modern military strategy. His work Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice continues to shape U.S. doctrine in the Middle East today. Praeger/ABC-CLIO is proud to announce the publication of Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency. Through years of extensive research and exclusive access to Galula's personal papers, as well as first-hand accounts from colleagues and family members, author A.A. Cohen presents a definitive history of Galula's life and military career. In this excerpt from his book he discusses the continued legacy: 

DAVID GALULA, whose name has become synonymous with counterinsurgency in the international military and diplomatic communities in recent years, lived a brief but extraordinary life. A soldier-intellectual through and through, he devoted his life to France, her army, and to “Western Democracy’s” struggle against totalitarian communist subversion. Graduating from Saint-Cyr military academy in 1940 at the age of twenty, he was rapidly immersed in France’s uninterrupted stream of conflicts until his retirement from active duty some twenty-three years later. In the five years that remained of his life, he would publish what has been hailed as one of the most significant doctrinal masterpieces of the twentieth century: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. He would also draft, during the same period, an illuminating report entitled Pacification in Algeria: 1956–1958 for the RAND Corporation. Though unavailable to the public until its declassification some four decades later, the report would come to perfectly complement his famous doctrinal work.
And that is certainly not all. 

Galula’s life and career were, against all odds and despite humble official advancements, as rich as they were fascinating. His fate led him to become intimately associated with the significant events and personalities of his time. He exerted a level of influence through the roles he occupied—and especially through the friendships he established—that was well out of proportion to his modest rank. He owed his influence instead to an uncommon intelligence, a flair for human behavior and relations, and a profound sense of humanity. Combined, these traits would propel him to enter the top military, diplomatic, and academic spheres, even though in truth, he was never a perfect fit within any of these. His strength resided in his capacity to adapt, though often with blinding loyalty and zeal. 

Galula took on the unabashed character of France’s famed Colonial Army turned Marine Corps, while remaining on its fringes throughout most of his career. He was a fantastic raconteur, as well as an able writer and orator. His wit, owed as much to genetics as to cultural background, endeared him to all who knew him on the four continents he came to call home. A quick read of the fictional publication he penned, The Tiger’s Whiskers, provides a first and undeniable element of proof. Despite the clinical detachment that one may glean from reading Counterinsurgency, the man, as shall be seen, was anything but emotionally detached from his work.

A.A. Cohen fought in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Chief of Defense Staff Commendation for outstanding initiative and motivation, and for his establishment of vital relationships with the local population. He currently works as a senior strategic trade advisor.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Anaheim Police Violence

More than 15,000 librarians and other conference attendees made their way to Anaheim, California the week of June 21-26 to attend the 2012 annual conference of the American Library Association.  The conference, entitled Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves, provided attendees with over 500 programs including sessions, speakers, and author presentations. 

Perhaps very few conference goers realized that Anaheim, home to Disneyland, is under fire amid police shootings, racial conflict, and subsequent protests that have since turned violent.  Gabriel Gutierrez, Director of the Center for the Study of the Peoples of the Americas (CESPA) at California State University Northridge and author of the forthcoming book Latinos and Latinas: Risks and Opportunities (Greenwood, 2014) tells us more.

Anaheim Police Violence

Review of media reports regarding the recent police killings in Fullerton and Anaheim, California reveals a disturbing contrast between the tactical responses by public officials and police agencies and the demonstrations that followed the July 2011 Fullerton Police beating and killing of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas and the Anaheim Police shooting and killing of 25-year-old Manuel Diaz and 21-year-old Joel Acevedo the weekend of July 20-22, 2012.

No immediate public response to Thomas’ killing was reported on the night of the incident. Shortly after an unarmed Diaz was shot and killed by Anaheim police, working class Latino residents gathered to question the killing. Cell phone video shows police responded by releasing an attack dog that knocked over a stroller and bit a woman. Further video shows men and women shielding their children from the rubber bullets police fired upon them while they were seated in a grass area. Several news outlets reported that Anaheim Police offered to buy video from four different residents.

Demonstrations against police violence followed release of cell phone video of the two incidents by local news stations and on social media sites. In Fullerton, police kept a low profile while monitoring a predominately white upper middle class crowd. The public outcry resulted in the arrests of two police officers and recall of three City Council members. Thomas’ father, a former Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy filed a civil lawsuit while his mother settled with the City of Fullerton for $1 million.

In Anaheim, demonstrations drew people from throughout southern California. Police responded with a show of military force, were heavily armed, on horse back, and in riot gear. The violence and vandalism that ensued raised concerns that police, in the tradition of Operation COINTELPRO, may have planted provocateurs who advocated violence in order to discredit the validity of the protest aims. Anaheim Councilwoman Gail Eastman, who opposed measures being considered that night, wrote on what she thought was a private message board, “it was a big time win for all who opposed seeing that placed on the November ballot. Tonight we celebrate a win with no shots fired!" The analogy by an elected city representative that shooting and killing young Latinos constitutes a “win” is unconscionable in the least and reinforces the growing public notion of Anaheim as a city bent on racialized violent authoritarianism.

Responding to the violent nature of police and elected officials in Anaheim, Presente.org gathered 17,000 digital signatures in a matter of days which it presented to State Attorney General Kamala Harris urging her to investigate the shootings. The U.S. State Department and FBI have agreed to conduct an independent investigation.  Others are calling for political changes in representation by changing from at large elections, which have historically disenfranchised communities of color and poor people to district elections, which ensure representation for residents of all sectors of the city.

The first step in healing must come in acknowledging the human dignity of a Latino population that has been criminalized, scapegoated and maligned in the mainstream media and by public officials and police agencies. A second step must be the recognition that participatory democracy in the form of direct resident participation provides for a transparent discussion of the issues. What happens in Anaheim as a result of this process will always be gauged by the arrests and charges against police officers, and the ousting of cynical elected representatives in Fullerton. Nothing less would be acceptable.   

Gabriel Gutierrez, Director of the Center for the Study of the Peoples of the Americas (CESPA) at California State University Northridge and author of the forthcoming book Latinos and Latinas: Risks and Opportunities (Greenwood, 2014)


For more information, see these recent releases from Greenwood, Praeger, and Libraries Unlimited:

Latino Issues: A Reference Handbook Rogelio Sáenz and Aurelia Lorena Murga (Greenwood, June 2011)

Blessing La Politica:The Latino Religious Experience and Political Engagement in the United States by Carlos Vargas-Ramos and Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo (Praeger, April 2012)

Pathways to Progress:Issues and Advances in Latino Librarianship by John L. Ayala and Salvador Güereña (Libraries Unlimited, November 2011)

Also, please check out ABC-Clio's American Mosaic Latino American Experience database.  To sign up for a free trial, click here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Curiosity on Mars

At 1:32 a.m. EDT on Monday, August 6, 2012, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity sent a message to Earth confirming that it had arrived on the surface of Mars. Curiosity had successfully executed an intricate landing procedure that NASA had named "Seven Minutes of Terror," involving the help of a supersonic parachute and a rocket-powered "sky crane." The unusual and complicated process for the landing of Curiosity captured widespread attention in recent weeks as anticipation grew for the touchdown of NASA's newest and most sophisticated robotic Martian rover.

Curiosity Spotted on Parachute by Orbiter
NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
In the aftermath of the arrival of Curiosity on the red planet, we asked two of our ABC-CLIO and Greenwood authors on the topic of space exploration for their thoughts on the day after this extraordinary achievement.

Curiosity's Potential

The successful landing of Curiosity on Mars last night continued NASA's enviable record of Mars missions since the 1960s. No other nation has launched as many missions to the Red Planet, and none so successfully. As highlighted by the worldwide media coverage, Mars missions have captured the imagination of people all around the world, particularly because of Mars' potential for extra-terrestrial life and future human habitation. Curiosity's landing and its global coverage demonstrate the persistence of historical trends: the expertise of American space engineering (particularly at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and by U.S. contractors), the scientific importance of Mars, and the public fascination with Mars missions.

Dr. Stephen B. Johnson, general editor of ABC-CLIO's Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia, is an associate research professor with the Center for Space Studies, within the National Institute for Science, Space, and Security Centers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is currently assigned under Interagency Personnel Agreement as a System Health Management Engineer for the Advanced Sensors and System Health Management Branch, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Drive on, Curiosity, Drive On!

“You put an X anyplace in the solar system, and the engineers at NASA can land a spacecraft on it." So said actor Robert Guillaume in an episode of “Sports Night,” a situation comedy about a team that produced a nightly cable sports broadcast in 2001. Amen, brother, the team that landed Curiosity proved the truth of that statement one more time with the successful landing of a big rover on Mars in the wee morning hours of August 6, 2012! It was a stunning success. 
There was nothing magic about it, but the event itself transcended the hard-edged scientific and technological knowledge that made the latest Mars landing successful. After years of hard work and dedication, the team working on Curiosity had their moment of truth about 1:30 a.m. EDT this morning. The first data back demonstrated that the rover has reached the surface of the red planet safely, and the first images to reach Earth showed where Curiosity was sitting on the Gale Crater floor. It was euphoric at mission control, around NASA, in numerous science centers, and in Times Square where thousands gathered to watch the proceedings. It was a geek’s dream come true as the folks in Times Square watching on the big screen began chanting “sci-ence, sci-ence, sci-ence.”

Of course there is more to do—a lot more—as Curiosity begins its multi-year mission to explore the Gale Crater and to climb Mt. Sharp in its center. Curiosity brings to the red planet’s surface a formidable life sciences laboratory that may well help us resolve beyond serious question whether or not life ever existed on Mars. This rover is the first full-scale astrobiology mission to Mars since the Viking landers of 1976. Having followed the water, and found evidence of it, it is now time for NASA to answer this massively large question: Are there locations on or under the surface that could have supported—or might still support—life on Mars? This is a bold question requiring the boldest type of mission to answer it. Curiosity has 10 different instruments designed to help find the answer to this question. It will look for processes that might have preserved clues about life, either now or in the past, on the red planet. 
So here’s to the team that landed Curiosity on the surface of Mars in a very small target inside Gale Crater! All I can say at present after the superb Martian landing is drive on, Curiosity, drive on!

Roger D. Launius, author of Greenwood's Frontiers of Space Exploration, Second Edition, is a senior curator in the National Air and Space Museum’s Division of Space History.

Curiosity's Surroundings
This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012. It was taken through a fisheye wide-angle lens on the left "eye" of a stereo pair of hazard-avoidance cameras on the left-rear side of the rover. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has been sprung open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Learn more about the fascinating world of space exploration with these resources from ABC-CLIO, available in print and eBook:

History Committee of the American Astronautical Society
Stephen B. Johnson, General Editor
Timothy M. Chamberlin, Michael L. Ciancone, Katherine Scott Sturdevant, and Rick W. Sturdevant, Section Editors
David Leverington, Technical Consultant

A complete history of human endeavors in space, this book also moves beyond the traditional topics of human spaceflight, space technology, and space science to include political, social, cultural, and economic issues, and also commercial, civilian, and military applications.

In two expertly written volumes, Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia covers all aspects of space flight in all participating nations, ranging from the Cold War–era beginnings of the space race to the lunar landings and the Apollo-Soyuz mission; from the Shuttle disasters and the Hubble telescope to Galileo, the Mars Rover, and the International Space Station. The book moves beyond the traditional topics of human spaceflight, space technology, and space science to include political, social, cultural, and economic issues, and also commercial, civilian, and military applications.

Patrick J. Walsh

This book is a comprehensive history of the first six decades of space exploration, from the end of World War II to the modern era of routine international cooperation in space.

The recent 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon was a vivid reminder of the powerful grip space travel has on our imagination. It also was a reminder of the pivotal role the space race played as a national challenge and a source of competition and cooperation in the Cold War, and how its triumphs and devastating tragedies affected us all.

From Sputnik to Soyuz, Mercury 7 to the International Space Station, Spaceflight: A Historical Encyclopedia spans the entire half-century of space travel like no other reference ever published.

Roger D. Launius

This one-stop guide to space exploration provides a wealth of information for student researchers.

Since the first rocket-technology experiments of the early 20th century, space exploration has captivated the world. Recent advances and setbacks have included the new discoveries from the Galileo mission, the Mars Global Surveyor's revelation that water once existed on the Red Planet, the International Space Station, the advent of space tourism, and the devastating Space Shuttle disasters. This one-stop guide to space exploration provides a wealth of information for student researchers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

China at the Olympics

Since 1992, China has been a dominant force in the Summer Olympic Games, increasing its total medal count with each Olympiad. The London Games have been no exception, with current medal standings placing China in first place, surpassing the U.S. in both total medal count and in total gold medals. Things weren't always this way, though, and John Findling, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, reflects on China's Olympic past.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has in the last twenty years or so, become a major player in the summer Olympics.  This year at the Games in London, the PRC brought a team of 396 competitors and is currently atop the leaderboard in medals won.  It is interesting to look back to China’s very humble origins in the Olympic movement and see just how far this nation has come.
Unlike the United States, Great Britain, and the major European nations, China was nowhere to be found when the modern Games were inaugurated in Athens in 1896.  Organized sport hardly existed in China.  Christian missionaries introduced basketball in 1898, and China won the basketball championship at the Far Eastern Sports Meet in 1924.  European-style football, or soccer, was introduced shortly after 1900, and the first college championship tournament was held in 1904, but China did join FIFA until 1931.  Volleyball was also introduced shortly after 1900, and the first men’s tournaments were held in 1911.  In 1924, women’s volleyball was demonstrated as the national sports meet. 
By the 1930s, China was a regular participant in the Far Eastern Games, the predecessor to the contemporary Asian Games, and had been accepted into the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  China’s desire to compete before the world in the Olympic Games stemmed from its thirty years of humiliation and subservience to its Asian rival, Japan, and the history of scornful treatment by Western powers that had almost resulted in the partition of China at the end of the 19th century.
As the Summer Games of 1932 drew near, China faced serious political problems caused by Japanese intervention into and absorption of Manchuria, China’s most northeastern province. Nevertheless, Chinese sports officials determined to send athletes to Los Angeles for the 1932 summer Games. 
As it turned out, China was represented in Los Angeles by only one competitor, sprinted Liu Changchun, and his coach, Seng Jungfu.  Liu was 22 and already well-known in China sporting circles for his outstanding performances at both national and international meets since 1929.  His participation in the Los Angeles Games was complicated by the fact that he was from Dalian, a port city now part of Manzhouguo (Manchukuo), a part of China that Japan then controlled.  The Japanese announced that Liu would be representing Manzhouguo at the Games, but Liu announced firmly that because he was ethnically Chinese, he would “not represent the false Manzhouguo….”  The Japanese backed off and Liu and his coach Seng left for Los Angeles on July 8, 1932.  They arrived on July 29, just a day before the Opening Ceremonies.  They were greeted by a large crowd of Chinese-Americans, and throughout the Games, they were treated as major celebrities.  On the field, however, Liu failed to qualify for the finals of his two events, the 100 and 200 meter dashes. 
Liu’s warm reception was certainly tied to the sympathy for his nation engendered by the American disapproval of Japan’s aggression in the Manchurian crisis, as it was called in the United States.  Clearly, the passage of time and a new set of circumstances in Asia marked a significant change in the way that China had been regarded a generation earlier.  China sent somewhat larger delegations to the 1936 Games in Berlin and 1948 Games in London, but the situation became much more complicated with the victory of the PRC in the Chinese civil war in 1949.   The PRC sent a delegation of about 40 to Helsinki for the summer Games in 1952, but only one athlete, a swimmer, actually competed.  Political wrangling over how the PRC and the Republic of China (Taiwan) should participate complicated matters for the next twenty or more years, but that is another story for another time.
John E. Findling is professor emeritus of history at Indiana University Southeast. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas and has pursued research interests in world’s fairs and the modern Olympic movement for nearly 30 years. Among his recent publications are Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement (2004), coedited with Kimberly Pelle and Events that Formed the Modern World: From the European Renaissance through the War on Terror, coedited with Frank W. Thackeray.