On this day…

December 19, 2006

in 1998 President Clinton was impeached.

After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be impeached, vowed to finish his term.

In November 1995, Clinton began an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old unpaid intern. Over the course of a year and a half, the president and Lewinsky had nearly a dozen sexual encounters in the White House. In April 1996, Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon. That summer, she first confided in Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp about her sexual relationship with the president. In 1997, with the relationship over, Tripp began secretly to record conversations with Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky gave Tripp details about the affair.

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A rib bone and a piece of cloth supposedly recovered after Joan of Arc was burned at the stake are probably not hers, according to experts trying to unravel one of the mysteries surrounding the 15th century French heroine.

Eighteen experts began a series of tests six months ago on the fragments reportedly recovered from the pyre where the 19-year-old was burned for heresy.

Although the tests have not been completed, findings so far indicate there is “relatively little chance” that the remnants are hers, Philippe Charlier, the head of the team, told The Associated Press on Saturday. read more…

Discovery rewrites history of ancient Mediterranean civilizations

Compared to the well-studied world of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the civilizations that flourished in the eastern Mediterranean just before Homer’s time are still cloaked in mystery.

Even the basic chronology of the region during this time has been heatedly debated. Now, a resolution has finally emerged — initiated, quite literally, by an olive branch.

Scientists have discovered the remains of a single olive tree, buried alive during a massive volcanic eruption during the Late Bronze Age. A study that dates this tree, plus another study that dates a series of objects from before, during and after the eruption, now offer a new timeline for one of the earliest chapters of European civilization.

The new results suggest that the sophisticated and powerful Minoan civilization (featured in the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur) and several other pre-Homeric civilizations arose about a century earlier and lasted for longer than previously thought. read more…

After more than 160 years, the twin masts of the Milan still stand erect _ all the more remarkable because the commercial sailing ship sits in the dark depths of Lake Ontario. “It almost looks like it could be floated” to the surface, said shipwreck explorer Dan Scoville on Monday.

Scoville and fellow explorer Jim Kennard located the schooner in the summer of 2005 off the southern shore of the lake. They videotaped the 93-foot-long, square-stern vessel this year using an unmanned submersible built with the help of college students.

The ship sits upright on the lake bed at a depth of more than 200 feet. Its masts extend 70 feet upward in the dark waters.

“At those depths, and the water being so cold, there’s not a lot of oxygen” Scoville said. “It basically helps preserve the wood. If a shipwreck is in shallow, fresh water, the ice will get it or storms will beat it up.” read more…

After being ensconced for millions of years in the heart of a South African cave, the most complete hominid fossil found to date is finally seeing the light of day … or almost. A cast of Little Foot, a fossil with both ape-like and human features, was unveiled last week at an interactive museum at Maropeng, near the Sterkfontein caves where it was found, effectively bringing it closer to an eager public.

Another cast will be displayed at New York’s natural history museum and a third is already there for all to see at the Sterkfontein caves.

Little Foot generated huge excitement when it was found in the 1990s at the Sterkfontein caves north of Johannesburg as it was first dated to between 3.0 and 3.5 million-years-old. read more…

Humans first moved out of Africa about 70,000 years ago, but 30,000 years later some of them moved back.

That’s according to a new study based on DNA evidence from ancient human remains found in Africa. The findings are reported in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Science. read more…