Four years ago, a Philadelphia architecture firm won the right to design the new United States Embassy building in London.
And in the last year, archaeologists monitoring the construction site have discovered tools, charred remains of campfires, and even animal bones dating back 800,000 years to the Stone Age, LiveScience reports. In other words, our diplomatic mission in London is going to sit on top of a caveman campground.
“Prehistoric sites in London are extremely rare and to have such a vast horizon preserved is quite significant,” Kasia Olchowska, a senior archaeologist at the Museum of London Archaeology, tells Megan Gannon.
England’s streets have a knack for hiding history for ridiculously long periods of time. In 2012, archaeologists discovered the skeleton of King Richard III, who ruled England during the 15th century, beneath the asphalt of a parking lot.
In 2008, the State Department bought a new site for the U.S. Embassy in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth in London, on the south side of the Thames River. It then launched a contest to find a design firm to build the diplomatic hub. The embassy’s existing location, a 1950s-era structure in central London, was “too small, outdated, and hard to defend from security threats,” said Louis Susman, then the U.S. ambassador to Britain.
KieranTimberlake won the competition in February 2010. The embassy, slated for completion in 2017, will be a massive, $1 billion glass cube mounted on a colonnade, with a pond and pathways for the public (see a photo here). Within the beautiful, shimmering design are some pretty intense security measures: The glass exterior is bomb-resistant, and the pond is essentially a moat.
Back when the State Department was considering designs, more than two years before an attack in Benghazi, Libya, would kill four American diplomats and expose preventable security issues, embassy safety was a big concern. The Washington Post‘s Philip Kennicott wrote in 2010 about the department’s competition:
It might “¦ reflect the State Department’s desire for fresh and deeper thinking about how to design aesthetically pleasing but secure facilities. In recent years, the government has relied on standard embassy designs as it worked to rapidly replace or upgrade overseas facilities in the nervous post-2001 environment. Many of those were criticized for being fortresslike, forbidding, and isolated from their surroundings and the people they serve.
In a post-Benghazi word, “fortresslike, forbidding, and isolated” probably sounds just about right, even in a much friendlier nation.
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Newt Gringrich is actively positioning himself as a possible VP nominee for Donald Trump, according to National Review. After a New York Times piece mentioned him as a possible running mate, he said, "It is an honor to be mentioned. We need a new Contract with America to outline a 100-day plan to take back Washington from the lobbyists, bureaucrats, unions, and leftists. After helping in 1980 with Reagan and 1995 as speaker I know we have to move boldly and decisively before the election results wear off and the establishment starts fighting us. That is my focus." Meanwhile, Trump told CNN he'd be "interested in vetting" John Kasich as well.
"House Democrats are stepping up pressure on Republicans to advance legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s worsening debt crisis by issuing a report arguing that austerity cuts can’t be sustained and have made the island more vulnerable to the mosquito-borne Zika virus." Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report yesterday that argued "further sharp reductions in government spending can’t be a part of a legislative solution"—especially with a rainy season boosting the mosquito population and stressing an island health system already struggling to deal with the Zika virus.
"ISIS has the capability to stage a Paris-style attack in the U.S. using local cells to strike in multiple locations and inflict dozens of casualties, according to the Obama administration's top U.S. intelligence official." Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN's Peter Bergen that such a scenario is "something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels."