Daily Archive: 11/24/2014

Nov 24 2014

Justice for Turkeys

Even though “Last Week Tonight” is on hiatus, John Oliver, like you psychotic ex, he keeps sending us these videos to remind us what we’re missing.

Nov 24 2014

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

After Vowing to End Combat Mission in Afghanistan, Obama Secretly Extends America’s Longest War

Democracy Now

11/24/14

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat

By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times

NOV. 21, 2014

President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the “remnants of Al Qaeda.”



The internal discussion took place against the backdrop of this year’s collapse of Iraqi security forces in the face of the advance of the Islamic State as well as the mistrust between the Pentagon and the White House that still lingers since Mr. Obama’s 2009 decision to “surge” 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. Some of the president’s civilian advisers say that decision was made only because of excessive Pentagon pressure, and some military officials say it was half-baked and made with an eye to domestic politics.

Mr. Obama’s decision, made during a White House meeting in recent weeks with his senior national security advisers, came over the objection of some of his top civilian aides, who argued that American lives should not be put at risk next year in any operations against the Taliban – and that they should have only a narrow counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda.



“There was a school of thought that wanted the mission to be very limited, focused solely on Al Qaeda,” one American official said.

But, the official said, “the military pretty much got what it wanted.”



In effect, Mr. Obama’s decision largely extends much of the current American military role for another year. Mr. Obama and his aides were forced to make a decision because the 13-year old mission, Operation Enduring Freedom, is set to end on Dec. 31.

Afghanistan Quietly Lifts Ban on Nighttime Raids

By ROD NORDLAND and TAIMOOR SHAH, The New York Times

NOV. 23, 2014

The government of the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has quietly lifted the ban on night raids by special forces troops that his predecessor had imposed.

Afghan National Army Special Forces units are planning to resume the raids in 2015, and in some cases the raids will include members of American Special Operations units in an advisory role, according to Afghan military officials as well as officials with the American-led military coalition.

That news comes after published accounts of an order by President Obama to allow the American military to continue some limited combat operations in 2015. That order allows for the sort of air support necessary for successful night raids.



American military officials have long viewed night raids as the most important tactic in their fight against Taliban insurgents, because they can catch the militant group’s leaders where they are most vulnerable. For years, the Americans ignored Mr. Karzai’s demands that the raids stop.



On Saturday a White House official responded to an article in The New York Times that said that President Obama had issued a secret order continuing combat operations in 2015, after their planned end on Dec. 31. The official reiterated that “the United States’ combat mission in Afghanistan will be over by the end of this year.”

The American mission in 2015, the official said, would primarily be training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces. “As part of this mission, the United States may provide combat enabler support to the ANSF in limited circumstances to prevent detrimental strategic effects to these Afghan security forces,” the White House official said.

“Combat enabler” is military jargon for functions like air support, transportation, intelligence gathering and communications – functions for which Afghan forces are underprepared. The Afghans have relatively few combat-ready helicopters, for instance, while nearly all night raids are carried out by helicopter to achieve surprise.

Top U.S. General Says He’s Open to Using Ground Troops to Retake Mosul

By HELENE COOPER, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and RICK GLADSTONE

NOV. 13, 2014

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that Iraqi troops – who initially fled under the onslaught of Islamic State militants – are now doing a better job of standing and fighting. But he added that he could not foreclose the possibility that as operations against the Sunni militants move into more complex phases of clearing out cities and other areas by the Islamic State, American troops might have to help their Iraqi counterparts.

Continue reading the main story

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” General Dempsey said. Defense officials said that American Joint Tactical Attack Controllers could be used to call in airstrikes from tactical positions on the ground, most likely behind Iraqi forces. The tactical attack controllers often deploy in positions like hills and other high terrain so they can see operations and call in strikes.



The congressional testimony on Thursday underscored the challenge facing Mr. Obama as he continues to insist to a war-weary public that the United States is not returning to ground combat in Iraq. He has maintained that American ground troops will not be used, even as his generals have increasingly hinted that there may not be a way to defeat the Sunni militant group without at least some American forces, particularly to call in airstrikes.

Think any of that has something to do with this?

Hagel Submits Resignation as Defense Chief Under Pressure

By HELENE COOPER, The New York Times

NOV. 24, 2014

Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks.



Mr. Hagel, a combat veteran who was skeptical about the Iraq war, came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestrations.

Now, however, the American military is back on a war footing, although it is a modified one. Some 3,000 American troops are being deployed in Iraq to help the Iraqi military fight the Sunni militants of the Islamic State, even as the administration struggles to come up with, and articulate, a coherent strategy to defeat the group in both Iraq and Syria.



Mr. Hagel, for his part, spent his time on the job largely carrying out Mr. Obama’s stated wishes on matters like bringing back American troops from Afghanistan and trimming the Pentagon budget, with little pushback.

Chuck Hagel forced to step down as US defense secretary

Spencer Ackerman and Dan Roberts, The Guardian

Monday 24 November 2014 12.11 EST

Hagel was out of step with the administration on Isis, having urged the White House to clarify its stance on ushering Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad out of power and bizarrely inflating the threat Isis posed, calling it “an imminent threat to every interest we have” in an August press conference. While the administration has publicly ruled out using US ground forces in combat in Iraq, Hagel and particularly the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, floated precisely that as an option in testimony earlier this month.



(T)he strategy has come under criticism from hawks as well as doves. Hawks want a deeper US commitment of air as well as ground forces to beating Isis back, while doves are alarmed at the shifting of US war aims and commensurate resources. The next chairman of the Senate armed services committee, Arizona Republican John McCain, wants a more forceful US response to Isis and had long fallen out with his former friend Hagel.

In the five months since Isis seized Mosul, Obama has authorized 3,000 new troops to advise and train Iraqis, and expanded an air war into Syria. Pentagon efforts to field a Syrian proxy force have barely begun and are expected to take a year before yielding the first capable units.

Mr. Obama’s decision, made during a White House meeting in recent weeks with his senior national security advisers, came over the objection of some of his top civilian aides, who argued that American lives should not be put at risk next year in any operations against the Taliban – and that they should have only a narrow counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda.



“There was a school of thought that wanted the mission to be very limited, focused solely on Al Qaeda,” one American official said.

But, the official said, “the military pretty much got what it wanted.”

When Is a War Over?

By ELIZABETH D. SAMET, The New York Times

NOV. 21, 2014

Ascertaining the logical limits of a campaign presents not merely a strategic but a psychological challenge to its architects and its participants. The longer an expedition’s duration, the harder it becomes to know precisely what constitutes the end, as our wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate. But campaigners with a shifting purpose can derail even a comparatively short war. Disagreement over the conflict’s proper scope led to the breach between President Harry S. Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur over Korea. Truman fired the popular general, a decision for which he was initially vilified, to prevent a limited war from becoming a third world war.

“Now, many persons, even some who applauded our decision to defend Korea, have forgotten the basic reason for our action,” the president explained in April 1951. Truman “considered it essential to relieve General MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.”

In 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld used different language to address essentially the same problem when he asked, “Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?” in a memo in October of that year. “Today, we lack metrics to know.” The metrics of 2014 are hardly more definitive.

Americans are uncomfortable with the prospect of an endless war yet deeply uncertain about the natural scope of the campaigns launched by the Authorization for Use of Military Force, signed into law by President George W. Bush on Sept. 18, 2001, against those responsible for the terrorist attacks a week before. This uneasiness and confusion have dominated the new century. Afghanistan was eclipsed by Iraq, Iraq by Afghanistan, and then the entire effort by what we have taken to calling war weariness on the part of a spectating public. A periodic revival of interest in Libya, Syria and elsewhere notwithstanding, much of that public long ago wearied even of watching, while a small percentage of Americans have been commuting to the wars.



In their 10th year on the march the Macedonians told Alexander they would go no farther. They had conquered Persia, endured three years of enervating guerrilla warfare in the mountainous terrain of northern Afghanistan and Iran, crossed the Hindu Kush, and reached the banks of the Beas River, in the Punjab. The campaign’s sense of purpose had begun to drift. The army’s march had taken it off the map into territory heretofore known to the Greek world only through rumor and legend.

Initially billing his campaign as one of Panhellenic vengeance against the Persians, Alexander united the Greek city-states, restored territories lost in the Greco-Persian Wars and liberated Greeks living under Persian control. By the time his army mutinied in India, however, this goal – only partly the stuff of spin – had been accomplished while the initial clarity of the campaign evaporated. As the second-century Greek chronicler Arrian reports, the Macedonians had wearied of watching Alexander perpetually “charging from labor to labor, danger to danger.” Faced with the prospect of an apparently endless quest, they turned their thoughts toward home.



Alexander informed his disgruntled troops, “As for a limit to one’s labors, I, for one, do not recognize any for a high-minded man, except that the labors themselves should lead to noble accomplishments.” He assured them that “those who labor and face dangers achieve noble deeds, and it is sweet to live bravely and die leaving behind an immortal fame.”

To which Coenus, reputedly one of the most faithful Macedonians, replied, “If there is one thing above all others a successful man should know, it is when to stop.” Persuaded to turn around despite his fury at the mutineers, Alexander meandered with his army through India’s Gedrosian Desert and Iran for another three years before dying of fever in Babylon.



Alexander is sufficiently self-aware to understand the vanity of his quest but unable to turn back: “I see that I’m to be / Hurried about the world perpetually, / And that I’ll never know another fate. / Than this incessant, wandering, restless state!” Asked repeatedly by the rival rulers he encounters what he wants in the end, Alexander finds it increasingly difficult to come up with an answer. There’s an insight here into the psychology of long campaigns, which tend to exhaust our ability to make sense of them.

Nov 24 2014

What’s Cooking: Fried Turkey

For the more daring and adventurous cooks

Republished from November 23, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

By now you should have defrosted that frozen turkey and it should be resting comfortably in the back of you refrigerator. If you haven’t, getteth your butt to the grocery store and buy a fresh one because even if you start defrosting today, your bird might not be defrosted in time. I discussed the how to cook your bird to perfection in a conventional oven, now for a method that’s a little daring, deep frying.

Alton Brown, is one of my favorite TV cooks. Good Eats funny and informative, plus, his recipes are easy and edible. I’ve done fried turkey and while I don’t recommend it for health reasons, once a year probably wont hurt. Alton’s “how to” videos are a must watch on safety tips, how to choose a turkey fryer, equipment and, finally, cooking directions. If you decide to try this, please follow all directions carefully and take all the safety precautions.

Below the fold are recipes and more safety tips.

Bon Apetite



Nov 24 2014

An Anthology of Turkey Day Helpful Hints and Recipes

Republished from November 18, 2012 because it’s that time of year again.

PhotobucketOver the last couple of years I’ve shared some of the recipes that I served at the annual Turkey Feast. There have also been diaries about cooking the bird, whether or not to stuff it and suggestions about what to drink that will not conflict with such an eclectic meal of many flavors. It’s not easy to please everyone and, like in my family, there are those who insist on “traditions” like Pumpkin Pie made only from the recipe on the Libby’s Pumpkin Puree can slathered with Ready Whip Whipped Cream. For my son-in-law it isn’t Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Thank the cats we have a crowd that will eat just about anything on the table that looks pretty. Rather than reprise each recipe, I’ve compiled an anthology of past diaries to help you survive the trauma of Thanksgiving Day and enjoy not just the meal but family and friends.

  • What’s Cooking: Stuffing the Turkey Or Not
  • Health reasons why not to stuff that bird and a recipe with a clever decorative way to serve the dressing.

  • What’s Cooking: What to Drink with the Turkey
  • Suggestions on wine and beer pairings that go with everything including brussel sprouts.

  • What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash
  • A great substitute for those sticky, over sweet, marshmallow topped tubers that goes well with pork or ham and breakfast.

  • What’s Cooking: Autumn Succotash, Not Your Usual Suspect
  • Hate those gritty, tasteless lima beans in succoatash? I do but this recipe using edamame change my mind

  • Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving
  • Includes a great recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake that will please even those diehard traditional pumpkin pie lovers.

  • What’s Cooking: Pumpkin Soup
  • Any squash can be substituted for pumpkin in this recipe. My daughter is using butternut served with a dollop of cumin flavored sour cream.

  • What’s Cooking: Don’t Throw That Turkey Carcass Out
  • Besides making turkey soup or hash with those leftovers and the carcass, there is also some great recipes like the mushroom risotto in this essay.

    May everyone have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.  

    Nov 24 2014

    Bull in the Pottery Barn

    Just keep digging because with piles of broken crockery and great steaming heaps like this, you just know there’s a Pony in there somewhere.

    US to arm Sunni tribesmen in Iraq to bolster defence against Islamic State

    Reuters

    Saturday 22 November 2014 15.31 EST

    The US plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds, to help bolster the battle against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Anbar province, according to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress.

    The plan to spend $24.1m represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6bn spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces. But the document underscored the importance the Pentagon places on the Sunni tribesmen to its overall strategy to diminish Isis, and cautioned Congress about the consequences of failing to assist them.

    “Not arming tribal fighters will continue to leave anti-[Isis] tribes reluctant to actively counter [Isis],” the document said, regarding the group which has seized control of large parts of Syrian and Iraq and is gaining territory in Anbar despite three months of US-led air strikes.



    The document also noted Iraqi security forces were not “not particularly welcome in Anbar and other majority Sunni areas”, citing their poor combat performance and sectarian divisions.

    Graft Hobbles Iraq’s Military in Fighting ISIS

    By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, The New York Times

    NOV. 23, 2014

    “I told the Americans, don’t give any weapons through the army – not even one piece – because corruption is everywhere, and you will not see any of it,” said Col. Shaaban al-Obeidi of the internal security forces, also a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar Province. “Our people will steal it.”



    “If each soldier is supposed to get 100 bullets, he will only get 50, and the officer will take and sell the rest,” Colonel Obeidi said. As he showed a reporter the Austrian-made Glock handgun he obtained from United States forces years ago, he added, “If the Iraqi Army had supplied this, the barrel would explode in two rounds.”



    Many Sunni tribal leaders, deeply mistrustful of the Shiite-dominated military, are urging the United States to provide salaries and weapons directly to the tribes, much as it did during the so-called Awakening movement against Al Qaeda in Iraq seven years before.

    But officials of the Shiite-dominated government say any American attempts to work directly with the tribes would violate Iraqi sovereignty and exacerbate sectarian divisions.

    Revealed: UK ‘mercenaries’ fighting Islamic State terrorist forces in Syria

    Mark Townsend, The Guardian

    Saturday 22 November 2014 16.42 EST

    James Hughes, from Reading, Berkshire, is understood to be in Rojava, northern Syria, helping to defend the beleaguered city of Kobani as a de facto “mercenary” fighting on behalf of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the YPG.

    According to his Facebook profile, Hughes served in Afghanistan three times and left the army this year after five years’ service. He appears to be fighting Isis forces alongside his friend Jamie Read, from Newmains, north Lanarkshire, whose Facebook page reveals that he trained with the French army. He describes having been involved in fierce gunfights against jihadists last week.



    The Britons appear to have been recruited by an American called Jordan Matson on behalf of the “Lions of Rojava”, which is run by the Kurdish YPG movement and whose Facebook page urges people to join and help “send [the] terrorists to hell and save humanity” from Isis.



    Although the Home Office states that taking part in a conflict overseas could be an offence under both criminal and anti-terrorism laws, it clarifies: “UK law makes provisions to deal with different conflicts in different ways – fighting in a foreign war is not automatically an offence but will depend on the nature of the conflict and the individual’s own activities.”

    US air strikes in Syria driving anti-Assad groups to support Isis

    Mona Mahmood, The Guardian

    Sunday 23 November 2014 09.13 EST

    Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.

    Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.



    A third man, Abu Zeid, the commander of an FSA brigade near Idlib and a defector from President Bashar al-Assad’s army, said: “All the locals here wonder why the US coalition never came to rescue them from Assad’s machine guns, but run to fight Isis when it took a few pieces of land. We were in a robust fight against Isis for confiscating our liberated areas, but now, if we are not in an alliance, we are in a truce with them.”

    These and other Syrian fighters told the Guardian in interviews by phone and Skype that the US campaign is turning the attitudes of Syrian opposition groups and fighters in favour of Isis. Omar Waleed, an FSA fighter in Hama, north of Damascus, said: “I’m really scared that eventually most of the people will join Isis out of their disappointment with the US administration. Just have a look on social media websites, and you can see lots of people and leaders are turning to the side of Isis.

    “We did not get any weapons from the US to fight the regime for the last three years. Only now US weapons arrived for fighting Isis.”

    Abu Talha said he had joined the FSA after being released from prison in an amnesty Assad granted shortly after the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, and became commander of the Ansar al-Haq brigade in Ghouta, an eastern suburb of Damascus. He became disillusioned with the FSA, however, believing it was a tool of foreign intelligence services and poor in combat. After four senior fighters in his brigade were fatally wounded a few months ago, he defected to Isis.

    “Since that day, I vowed not to fight under a flag bearing the mark of the FSA even for a second. I looked around for truthful jihadis, to fight by their side. I could not find any better than the jihadis of Isis. I told my fighters: ‘I’m going to join Isis, you are free to follow me or choose your own way’,” he said.



    Only a small number openly declared their new allegiance, he added. “Large brigades in Idlib, Aleppo, Derra, Qalamoun and south Damascus have pledged loyalty to Isis in secret. Many senior leaders of brigades in Syria are in talks with us now to get together and fight as a united force against the US aggression,” he said. His claims cannot be independently verified.

    Murad, a fighter with the FSA’s 600-strong al-Ribat brigade near Homs, said an offer three months ago by the US-backed Hazem movement to supply his unit with advanced weaponry if it joined the fight against Isis was turned down.

    “We rejected this attractive offer, even though we are in great need not only of weapons but food. There is no way that we would fight Isis after the US military campaign against them,” he said.



    Fighters from Islamic militias are also joining forces with Isis. In Idlib, in north-west Syria, the Jaish al-Mujahideen army, al-Sham brigade, Ahrar al-Sham brigade and al-Nusra Front were all in conflict against Isis earlier this year. Now they are calling for an alliance. More than 1,000 al-Nusra Front fighters in the area joined forces with Isis in a single week in August, according to Ali Sa’eed, a spokesman for the FSA revolutionary command in Idlib.



    “There are senior leaders of al-Nusra Front who are waiting for the zero hour to unite with us. They are more conscious now of the great risks that lie behind the new US crusade against Muslims and jihadis,” he said.

    According to those interviewed, civilians as well as fighters are turning towards Isis. The group is gaining support because it implements social measures and increases security, according to Abu Talha.



    Isis does not have enough weapons for the number of foreign and local jihadis wanting to join its ranks, Abu Talha said. “Jihadis in Algeria, Morocco and Yemen are declaring their allegiance to Isis. Soon we will be in Gaza and then in Iran. People are starting to be aware that Isis is defending the Sunnis.”

    Another Iraq Failure by Petraeus: Graft-Ridden Military

    By Jim White, emptywheel

    Published November 24, 2014

    Back when the Bush Administration and their neocon operators were most proud of their “accomplishments” in Iraq, their poster boy for this success most often was my favorite ass-kissing little chickenshit, David Petraeus. As the public finally became aware of what a disaster Iraq really was and as Obama moved his focus to the “good war” in Afghanistan, I noted that Petraeus’ name was no longer associated with Iraq once it, and especially Petraeus’ multiple attempts to train Iraq’s military, had failed. Today we have further news on how Iraq’s military came to be in such sad shape that many units simply disappeared when it came time to confront ISIS. It turns out that while he was gaining accolades for training Iraqi troops, Petraeus was in reality creating a system in which Iraqi officers were able to siphon off the billions of dollars the US wasted on the whole training operation.



    Isn’t that just peachy? We know without a doubt that giving weapons or financial support to the Iraqi military is guaranteed to wind up helping ISIS instead of fighting them. And yet Washington insists on throwing another $1.3 billion going down the same shithole.

    Part of the reason that this can’t be stopped is that the US side of the graft is so organized and institutionalized. Moving out from just the efforts within Iraq to the entire campaign against ISIS, we see who really benefits.

    Nov 24 2014

    TBC: Morning Musing 11.24.14

    I have some lighter fare for you all this morning:

    Don’t rake your leaves, scientists say

    Here’s an excuse to use the next time someone asks you to rake the leaves: Science.

    The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging people to leave the leaves.

    Jump!

    Nov 24 2014

    On This Day In History November 24

    This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

    Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

    November 24 is the 328th day of the year (329th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 37 days remaining until the end of the year.

    On this day in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a groundbreaking scientific work by British naturalist Charles Darwin, is published in England. Darwin’s theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called “natural selection.” In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.

    Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. For the sixth edition of 1872, the short title was changed to The Origin of Species. Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

    Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

    The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T.H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During the “eclipse of Darwinism” from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin’s concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to  modern evolutionary theory, now the unifying concept of the life sciences.