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Koch-Backed Group Sends Mailers Urging Immigration Reform

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An advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers focused on the Hispanic community is sending out a new round of mailers urging constituents to contact lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support a comprehensive immigration bill.

Orchestrated by the Libre Initative, the mailers are part of a seven figure campaign by the Koch network to push Congress to act on immigration reform. The immigration plan the network supports includes a permanent solution for DREAMers — immigrants who came to the country undocumented with their parents when they were children — and $25 billion to enhance border security.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for reaching a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers,” said Daniel Garza, President of the Libre Initiative. “Acting now would unlock the potential of the Dreamers, promote economic opportunity, and strengthen our communities.”

Libre Initaitve and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, another group backed by the Koch network, announced the 7-figure campaign last month. The launch of the campaign was accompanied by a television ad featuring former President Barack Obama, an anomaly for the network, which almost universally backs conservative candidates and policies.

The mailers target 20 lawmakers from both of sides of the aisle who represent 13 states, including House and Senate leadership from both parties: House Speaker Paul Ryan, who opposes lawmakers’ efforts to force a vote on immigration; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is also targeted for the mailers, as are the two Senators representing Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia. “Tell [lawmaker] its time for a permanent bipartisan solution,” the mailer reads. It also includes a link to sign a petition from Libre urging action on immigration reform.

“We identified key members that we believe have an opportunity to play a positive role in enacting a solution for the Dreamers,” said Brian Faughnan, the Libre Initiative’s Communications Director, told TIME when asked how the lawmakers had been selected.

The mailers come as Republicans scurry to get the votes on a discharge petition that would force a series of votes on various immigration proposals in the House of Representatives, effectively bypassing House leadership, if it amasses the requisite 218 votes. As of Wednesday evening, it had garnered 205 signatures but only 21 were from Republicans. The majority of Republicans who have signed on, if they are not retiring, increasingly find themselves facing an uphill reelection battle where the fate of the DREAMers could be key in swaying votes.

For instance, the petition has been led by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose Florida district voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and who has been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign. Other Congressmen who have signed on or are helping lead the crusade for votes include Reps. Jeffrey Denham, Mike Coffman, Will Hurd, and John Faso, all of whom are running for reelection in districts rated as toss-ups by the non-partisan Cook Political report.

In 2012, under an executive order from Obama, DREAMers were granted the opportunity to apply for a work permit, which shielded them from deportation. The program benefitted 800,000 people, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, but their future now hangs in limbo. Trump announced last September he was phasing out the program, choosing instead to defer to Congress for a solution, but Congress has yet to act.

The Republican conference is supposed to convene on June 7, however, to discuss immigration, according to a senior House aide.

Last week’s mailers thanked lawmakers like Curbelo — although both sides of the aisle were represented — for their efforts to convince Congress to act. In total, both mailers are expect to reach 100,000 people, Faughnan said. He representative declined to provide a spending figure.

(Disclosure: Time Inc., TIME’s parent company, was acquired by Meredith Corp. in a deal partially financed by Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc.)

South Korean President Moon: Inter-Korean Talks Will Resume

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South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has told U.S. President Donald Trump he expects talks between the two Koreas to resume after joint Washington–Seoul military exercises conclude this week.

Moon’s comments at the White House Wednesday came just hours before North Korea’s vice foreign minister threatened the U.S. with the prospect of an “appalling tragedy” and a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”

“Moon told Trump that the inter-Korean dialogue, including high-level talks, may resume after Friday when the Max Thunder air exercises will be over,” Moon’s chief press secretary said, using a military designation for the air drills, the Korea Times reported.

Pyongyang pulled out of high-level talks with Seoul on May 16, blunting the optimism that followed Moon and Kim’s historic April 27 meeting, in which the latter pledged “a new era of peace” on the peninsula. Calling the joint drills a “provocative military ruckus” North Korea also said it would “reconsider” Kim’s planned June 12 summit with the U.S. if America tried to “force” its “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

Tension has ratcheted since, with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton suggestion of a “Libya model” for North Korean disarmament particularly aggravating Pyongyang. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was beaten and executed following a Nato-backed uprising less than eight years after surrendering his nascent weapons program.

“In view of the remarks of the U.S. high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us,” North Korea’s vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui said in a statement Thursday, using the acronym for the Democratic Republic of Korea, the North’s official name. “To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.”

Speaking at a symposium at Seoul’s National Assembly, Christine Ahn, founder of peace advocacy group Women Cross DMZ, said that Choe’s comments reflected “how frail this moment is” and reaffirmed the urgency of demonstrating international solidarity with local peace efforts.

Ahn, who will visit the DMZ with a delegation of representatives from women’s peace organizations Saturday told TIME that the use of B-52 bombers and F-22 fighter jets in the joint air drills “was highly provocative and violated the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration.”

Pyongyang has long regarded U.S.–South Korea joint military exercises a rehearsal for invasion and particularly objects to the inclusion of bombers. The U.S. dropped more ordinance on North Korea in the 1950’s than it did in the entire Pacific theater during World War II.

In April, however, the South Korean government said Kim had told visiting South Korean officials he “understood” the drills would take place.

There is nothing new about Pyongyang lurching between appeasement and blood curdling threats.

“The signaling is that, look, we can have a co-operative relationship based on reason and reconciliation, or you could have this hellish uncooperative, belligerent, hostile relationship. The messaging is that it’s up to you,” says Daniel Pinkston, an East Asia expert at Troy University in South Korea.

While Pinkston has described North Korean nuclear disarmament as analogous to “the Pope abandoning Jesus” he says that Moon, an accomplished diplomat, would be hoping that social interaction and engagement will persuade Kim leader he is not under threat.

In Washington, Moon told Trump he had “no doubt at all” that Kim was determined to discuss denuclearisation with the U.S President.

Trump meanwhile, “is applying the kind of tools and instruments and tactics in a local real estate market in NYC,” says Pinkston. But “with an international system there are no courts, there’s no third-party enforcer. It’s way over his head and it’s dangerous.”

San Antonio, TX

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A splash of color for the San Antonio River Walk. (Credit: Mary Gomes)

Known as Military City, USA, with friendly people and affordable living, we have everything for everybody. We have amusement parks (including the only one in the world exclusively designed for people with special needs), and historical locations ranging from the Alamo to the San Antonio Missions’ World Heritage Site. We have theater, every type of ethnic food imaginable, our famous River Walk, music venues, shops, museums, and rodeos. Need I say more?

The Tower of the Americas from the 1968 World’s Fair. (Credit: Mary Gomes)

Stories About San Antonio

Young people here hold doors open, and anyone will stop for you if you look like you need directions. I once fell at a pre-rodeo parade and was helped by so many strangers.

A rough rider outside the Briscoe Western Art Museum. (Credit: Mary Gomes)

The post San Antonio, TX appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Witnesses to Get Disguises For Testifying Against Mafia Boss

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(BOSTON) — Two government witnesses in the trial of former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme will be disguised by a “movie-industry” quality makeup artist to protect their identities.

Judge Allison Burroughs agreed to the plan Wednesday to protect the identities of two inspectors for the federal Witness Security Program.

The U.S. Marshals Service had urged the judge to keep the public out of the courtroom while they’re on the stand and broadcast their testimony into another room.

Salemme is on trial for the 1993 death of a nightclub owner Steven DiSarro. Salemme denies involvement in the killing.

Salemme was in the witness protection program when DiSarro’s body was found in 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Testimony in the trial is expected to resume Tuesday.

Donald Trump Can’t Block People on Twitter, Judge Rules

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(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York says President Donald Trump violates the First Amendment by blocking critics on Twitter for political speech.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan issued the written decision Wednesday.

In ruling, she said no government official — including the president — is above the law.

The case was brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing the Republican president.

After a hearing this year, the judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics. At the time, a Justice Department attorney agreed that muting would enable Trump to avoid a tweet he doesn’t want to read.

Ireland Abortion Referendum—History Behind the 8th Amendment

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The eighth amendment to Ireland’s constitution, which faces repeal in a national referendum on May 25, gives a mother and her unborn child an “equal right to life” and prevents any relaxation of the country’s near-total ban on abortion. This means that Ireland’s law on abortion is among the strictest in Europe and the world, though it does make some allowances for “risk of loss of life of pregnant woman.”

Though Friday’s contentious referendum could be a major milestone in the history of abortion in Ireland, this is far from the first time the majority-Catholic country has confronted the issue. The last 40 years have seen many twists and turns in both public attitudes and the law.

Here are the key moments to know:

۱۹۸۳: The Eighth Amendment Referendum

While deliberately terminating a pregnancy has been a criminal offense in Ireland since 1861, the modern debate can be traced back to the 1970s, a time when regulations about abortion were changing in many places.

The U.K. had legalized abortion up to 28 weeks in 1967, and the U.S. Supreme Court had essentially legalized abortion in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. Alarmed by the trend, conservative politicians and the Catholic Church wanted to preempt any attempt to loosen the Irish ban. They launched an active campaign to introduce a constitutional amendment to that purpose, which culminated in a referendum in 1983. At that time, about 67% voted in favor of the eighth amendment — the very amendment up for repeal this week. “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn,” the amendment reads, “and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

۱۹۹۲: The X Case

Some groups continued to protest the ban in the years following the referendum, but it was not until 1992’s X Case that the abortion issue exploded back into the spotlight. A 14-year-old girl, known in the media only as X, was raped and, realizing she was pregnant, decided to travel to the U.K. to have an abortion. Her family told police about the plan, to find out if they could do a DNA test after the abortion to prove the paternity of the girl’s rapist. Instead, Ireland’s Attorney General blocked her from traveling abroad via an injunction. The girl became suicidal and her case quickly made it to the country’s Supreme Court, which lifted the injunction and ruled that abortions could take place where there was a real risk to the life of the mother, including from suicide.

Since then, several attempts to remove suicide as grounds for abortion – including a referendum in 2002 – have failed. But the Supreme Court’s ruling did not make it into legislation for another 20 years.

The X case did lead to some change, though. Two referendums in November 1992 made it legal to travel abroad to seek abortions and to share information about foreign abortion services within Ireland. Some 170,000 women are estimated to have traveled out of Ireland for an abortion since 1980.

۲۰۱۲: Savita Praveen Halappanavar

The death of Savita Praveen Halappanavar in October 2012 once again brought global media attention to the country’s strict laws on abortion.

Halappanavar, 31, was admitted to a hospital in Galway while having a miscarriage. She repeatedly asked staff to terminate her pregnancy but they refused, telling her that Ireland was “a Catholic country.” She died at the hospital, from severe sepsis, five days after she had started miscarrying. The case angered many who had previously been apathetic about abortion law and reinvigorated the abortion-rights movement in Ireland.

۲۰۱۳: Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act

The attention surrounding the Halappanavar case, as well as a 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human rights that Ireland was violating Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to enact the ruling from the 1992 X Case, spurred legislators to act. In 2013, they introduced the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, allowing abortions in circumstances where there was a risk to the life of the mother.

Since then, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has criticized Ireland’s abortion laws as “cruel and inhumane.” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the referendum on repealing the eighth amendment a few months after entering office in 2017.

Polls suggest the result will be close. If the eighth amendment is repealed, Varadkar’s government will likely legalize abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

۴ Maryland Teens Charged For Allegedly Killing Female Cop

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(TOWSON, Md.) — A day after a 16-year-old suspect was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly accelerating a stolen Jeep at a Maryland police officer and fatally running her down, three more teenagers have been charged as adults in her death.

Under the state’s felony murder law, if someone is killed during a robbery, accomplices can be found guilty of the slaying along with the killer. For this reason, authorities say the three were charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio even though they were allegedly burglarizing a nearby home when she was killed on a suburban cul-de-sac.

Fifteen-year-old Darrell Jaymar Ward, 16-year-old Derrick Eugene Matthews and 17-year-old Eugene Robert Genius IV were scheduled to appear at bail hearings Wednesday afternoon. Tracked down at their Baltimore homes and arrested Tuesday, they are also charged with first-degree burglary. Court records did not list defense attorneys, and attempts to reach people believed to be relatives were not immediately successful.

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said the three can be held “for everything that occurs as a result of that burglary, including when their co-defendant is outside running over a police officer and killing her.”

A fourth suspect, 16-year-old Dawnta Anthony Harris, was the first to be charged with first-degree murder. The slain officer’s body camera footage clearly shows Harris accelerating the Jeep at her after she tried to apprehend him in the suburban Perry Hall community northeast of Baltimore, prosecutor William Bickel said during his bail hearing.

Harris was ordered held without bond after a hearing Tuesday in which a judge described him as a “one-man crime wave.” The Associated Press does not ordinarily identify underage suspects unless they face adult charges.

A public defender who represented Harris at his initial court appearance requested that he be sent to a juvenile lockup, but prosecutors noted his series of auto theft arrests and a repeated recent history of running away from juvenile facilities. The judge ordered him to be housed at an adult jail.

Baltimore defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon announced Wednesday that he will join with another lawyer to represent Harris, saying they will not allow the 16-year-old suspect to be “sacrificed to the system without due process and zealous advocacy.”

“Every life is worth fighting for. This young man is no different, he deserves a chance. And let’s not forget, even though I refer to him as a young man, he is still a child,” Gordon wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the defense lawyers planned to represent the other three suspects.

The 29-year-old Caprio was run down Monday by a stolen Jeep driven by Harris after she responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle, investigators have said.

Harris was apprehended shortly after abandoning the Jeep, which police said had been stolen May 18 in Baltimore. According to probable cause statement, Harris admitted as much, telling a detective that he “drove at the officer.”

According to probable cause statements obtained Wednesday, Harris identified Ward, Matthews and Genius as the three subjects responsible for the burglary.

Matthews and Ward admitting to committing the burglary, probable cause statements said. Genius at first declined to give a statement but later objected to being charged with murder, saying he was in the house when the killing occurred, another statement said.

Harris was supposed to be on house arrest and was still wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet when he ran down Caprio, authorities said. The ninth-grader was on house arrest at his mother’s West Baltimore home, but ran away May 14, they said.

Sam Abed, the Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services, said at a news conference that his department had made “many attempts” to contact Harris after he went missing from his mother’s house but was unsuccessful.

The ankle bracelet Harris was wearing Monday simply indicated whether he was inside or outside his home — it did not track his whereabouts, Shellenberger said.

“Did the system not work?” police Chief Terrence Sheridan said. “It sounds like … it could have worked better in this particular case.”

Caprio, who would have been on the force four years in July, was smart, athletic and energetic, just the type of officer you want to hire, Sheridan said. She and her husband were to start vacation this weekend to celebrate their third wedding anniversary and their upcoming birthdays, police said.

A medical examiner determined she died of trauma to the head and torso, according to Sheridan.

The death stunned the quiet, residential neighborhood of Perry Hall where she was killed. A steady stream of residents and well-wishers have left bouquets and other offerings just outside the police station where she once worked.


The Parents Television Council asked this week for Netflix to pull the popular series 13 Reasons Why, now in its second season on the streaming platform. 13 Reasons Why is based on a book by Jay Asher that details the death by suicide of a fictional teen, Hannah Baker, and the impact it has on her high school classmates.

“Netflix has delivered a ticking time bomb to teens and children who watch 13 Reasons Why,’” said group president Tim Winter in a statement, calling the second season “even worse” than expected due to certain graphic elements. The PTC calls itself a “non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment.”

“We would have liked to have 13 reasons for hope and redemption following the graphic suicide of the lead character, but rather than providing a path forward, the season only provides cause for despondency,” Winter continued.

For the second season, which was released May 18, Netflix worked to preempt this kind of critique of the content of the show by providing a number of online resources for mental health, suicide, sexual assault and bullying, and by prefacing the episodes with PSAs warning about the graphic nature of the show and its triggering potential.

But the Parents Television Council has not been satisfied with these changes, stating that the show is by nature problematic because it is targeted to vulnerable teens. They are warning parents to be “alert and on guard” after teens watch the show.

In the past, the PTC has issued statements supporting YouTube’s release of extended parental controls, urging for limited advertising of gun violence on TV and, in 2004, memorably rallied against and ushered through complaints to the FCC about Justin Timberlake’s botched Super Bowl XXXVIII performance with Janet Jackson.

Game of Thrones: Emilia Clarke on Daenerys’ Final Scene

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Like it or not, Game of Thrones is coming to an end. Which means that when season eight of the HBO drama finally airs in 2019, fans are going to have to say goodbye to each and every one of their favorite characters.

And as can only be expected from the show that gave us the Red Wedding and “Hold the door,” it sounds as though not all of those goodbyes will be pleasant ones.

In an interview with Vanity Fair that was published on Wednesday, Emilia Clarke seemed to hint that Daenerys Targaryen’s last scene will almost certainly be controversial. “It f—ed me up,” she said of shooting her character’s final on-screen moments. “Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is . . .”

For her part, it seems like no one will miss the Mother of Dragons more than Clarke herself.

“The transformation of Daenerys is the greatest gift I’ve been given as an actor, 100 percent,” she recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “Daenerys is so much a part of who I am, and I am so much a part of who she is, so it’s this incredibly frightening thing to walk away from—but at the same time, unbelievably exciting.”

The History of Ink Is the History of the World

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This post is in partnership with History Today. The article below was originally published at History Today.

History is full of ink. From Paleolithic cave paintings to parchment scrolls to printed books, ink has recorded human history for over 100 millennia. Even the Kindle makes use of e-ink (a reusable ink that sits just below the surface of the screen), reminding its readers that ink is hardly a thing of the past. All inks are a means and method of communication — the first and longest-running form of information technology.

Although historically ubiquitous and seemingly omnipresent, ink is anything but simple. Ever since the Pleistocene, inks of all types have been invented and reinvented, with every ink a product of its own unique context. On a basic material level, inks consist of two components: color and a way for that color to attach itself to its intended surface, be it papyrus, parchment or paper. But the way that those elements combine, and the ingredients used to make them, offer a variety of permutations, proving ink to be one of the most curious and complex objects in human history.

Consequently, inks are inexorably bound to their times, geographies and utilities as every type of ink is the result of decisions about purpose, cost, usability and accessibility. Neolithic Chinese ink had different cultural requirements from medieval manuscript ink; printing ink is most certainly different from that found in modern fountain pens. Ritually made ink is culturally sanctioned, whereas other modern inks are intentionally disposable. The value of each ink is seen in the sum of the choices about how it is made and why.

Maya Blue

Maya Blue is a vibrant, sky-colored azure found on ceramics, buildings and written records across the ancient landscape of Mesoamerica. First created around AD 300, Maya Blue melts together indigo from the local añil plant and the clay mineral palygorskite to form an ink that has endured in the archaeological record for centuries. The ink was ritually made by heating the palygorskite and indigo together in incense burners. More than just something to write with, however, it was a critically important part of ancient Maya religion and ritual as it symbolized the rain god, Chaak, as well as being associated with other deities.

The Maya occupied Mesoamerica from 4,500 years ago until the 16th-century Spanish conquest of Mexico. Although their writing appears on ceramics and architecture, codices were the main form of written history for the Maya — folding books with continuous accordion-like pages. These codices were written by religious scribes in a plethora of different inks, including Maya Blue.

Recently, Maya Blue has been a key piece of evidence in evaluating the authenticity of one of only four Maya codices to survive into the 21st century, the Grolier Codex. For decades after its discovery, the Grolier was considered a fake, based largely on the simple improbability of any new Maya codex being discovered. (Its sketchy provenance didn’t help; it was purportedly purchased by an antiquities dealer ten years before it was ever shown publicly.) In 2007, however, a detailed chemical analysis of the pigments found in the Grolier matched elements to the Maya Blue found in other codices and artifacts. Although the Grolier contains very little visible blue, these findings, along with other pre-Hispanic materials found in its inks, authenticated the codex.

As Maya Blue retains its brilliancy for centuries, few other Mesoamerican inks have offered archaeologists and art historians as much insight into the lives of the Maya.

Students of Huaibei City Gucheng Road Primary School attend a calligraphy competition on March 30, 2018, in Huaibei, Anhui Province of China.

Students of Huaibei City Gucheng Road Primary School attend a calligraphy competition on March 30, 2018, in Huaibei, Anhui Province of China.

VCG / Getty Images

Chinese Ink

For 5,000 years, artists and writers across Asia have used a glossy, dark black, durable carbon-based ink, first recorded in China’s Neolithic, which is known colloquially as Chinese ink. (Chinese ink is also known as India ink and remains extremely popular for contemporary artists and writers.) Chinese ink has been used from China to Korea to India to South-east Asia, on Buddhist and Jainian scrolls as well as in traditional Chinese calligraphy. Conventional Chinese ink, unlike many other inks throughout history, was made to be stored in a solid form, only to be liquefied into ink when needed.

Chinese ink is traditionally comprised of animal glue, carbon black and water. The carbon pigment came from soot or another dark mineral like graphite, most of which was obtained from burning oils, bones or woods like pine. Egg whites or glues made from fish or ox functioned as the binding agents. Some traditional manufacturers of Chinese ink added incenses and other elements to their ink recipes and a variety of other pigments offered more colors to artists than the traditional black. The glue and pigment were molded together and left to dry into a hardened rock-like, easily transportable inkstick that could be re-liquefied when needed. Ink was made by grinding off a fine dust from the stick and adding water. The maker could control the viscosity and thickness with each batch, allowing every stroke of ink to reflect intent or to convey a particular cultural cachet.

In traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting, the inkstick — along with the inkstone for grinding, a brush and paper — were the classic tools of the trade. The 11th-century poem “Poem Written in a Boat on the Wu River,” by the Chinese artist, poet and calligrapher Mi Fu, offers a particularly artistic reading of the ink, where the calligraphied characters take on aesthetic value beyond their simple drawing.

Iron Gall Ink

From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, iron gall ink was one of the most frequently made and used inks in Europe — so much so that it was often referred to as “common ink.” It was made in batches by hand until the 18th century, when it was produced on a commercial scale. The ubiquitous rusty browns (and paper damage) of manuscripts written in iron gall ink make it one of the most recognizable inks in the world.

At its most basic recipe — the earliest of which is found in Pliny — iron gall ink is comprised of four components: gall nuts, iron sulfate, water and gum arabic. Gall nuts form on oak trees as a defense against the irritant of hatching insects and are the source for the ink’s tannins – biomolecules used for tanning leather and dyeing textiles. The iron sulfate came directly from iron mining or was acquired as a by-product of alum manufacturing. The gum arabic served as the binding agent, making the ink more viscous, ensuring the pigment particles stayed properly suspended in the water, as well as binding the ink to its intended writing surface. Some iron gall recipes call for additional ingredients, like sugar or honey (plasticizing agents), pomegranate rinds as another source of tannins, dyes or pigments to enhance color and preservatives like alcohol or vinegar to prolong the ink’s shelf life.

The Book of Kells (the four Gospels of the New Testament) is upheld as one of the finest manuscripts produced in early medieval Britain. It was written in Ireland (and, possibly, Scotland) on 340 parchment leaves around AD 800. The neat biblical verses were penned in iron gall ink, with the distinctive rusty hue as a clear indication of the ink used, although many other ink colors are found in the book’s text.

While historically pervasive, iron gall ink is also inherently corrosive. Once put to paper, parchment or vellum it bites into and eats away at the surfaces — anything that the ink recorded is slowly eroding its own page away. The permanence of iron gall ink to the historical record is undercut by the ink’s very chemistry.

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A picture taken on May 29, 2009 in Colmar, northeastern France, shows pages of the Gutenberg Bible discovered in a library by a library assistant,

A picture taken on May 29, 2009 in Colmar, northeastern France, shows pages of the Gutenberg Bible discovered in a library by a library assistant,

Johanna Leguerre—AFP/Getty Images

Printing Ink

When Johannes Gutenberg introduced mass printing to Europe in the 1440s, the technological breakthrough was more than just a metal, moveable type press. A new kind of ink had to be developed, too.

In the centuries prior to Gutenberg’s press, books and codices written out in longhand used water-based inks. (Korean printing presses, predating Gutenberg’s by a century or two, used the water-based Chinese ink in their woodblock presses.) Water-based inks are well-suited for writing on parchment or vellum (or even printing with wooden blocks), but they simply oozed off the metal of Gutenberg’s moveable typeface. Consequently, the new metal presses would require an ink with a different base to give the liquid a viscous, thick consistency that would stick to the typeface. Gutenberg developed an oil-based alternative using oils similar to those used by contemporary painters, giving the ink more in common with a varnish or a paint than with the water-based inks used by scribes. In 1455, Gutenberg completed printing approximately 180 copies of the Bible.

The smooth, even black ink associated with Gutenberg’s Bibles contains carbon, with small reflective grains of graphite, as well as high levels of copper, lead, titanium and sulfur, giving the ink a reflective sheen as well as an intense, even color. In some early printed versions, Gutenberg experimented with the idea of printing in more than just one color and trying to use red for the beginning and ending of certain verses. Ultimately, however, the polychrome printing was abandoned in favor of the efficiency that printing in just black afforded.

The story of Gutenberg’s press and its importance for the production and distribution of books across Europe for the subsequent centuries would be incomplete without its ink.

Inkjet Ink

In 1968, the Japanese company Epson built the first electronic printer; 16 years later, Hewlett Packard released the first laser jet. By the late 1990s, inkjet printing was inexpensive enough to be ubiquitous in personal computing. Such pervasiveness, however, has come at a steep social price as inkjet ink does not last well – it fades quickly – and it has become synonymous with corporate price-gouging.

Inkjet printing propels drops of ink onto a surface by continuously pumping ink from a reservoir through a very small nozzle. The inkwell reservoir comes in the form of a cartridge and most inkjet printers are outfitted with four ink reservoirs in total – cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These can be combined to offer as many ink shades as required. The inks are water-based (rather than oil) with colour created from pigments and dyes and bound in their suspension with glycol. Many inkjet printers use a heat source in the ink reservoir to generate an ideal temperature for the ink’s viscosity and have a microchip in the cartridge to let a consumer know when the ink is running low.

Ink for inkjet printers is inexpensive to manufacture, but does not come cheaply to consumers. The United States Consumer Reports estimate that inkjet ink is priced anywhere from $13 to $75/oz, putting the current cost of a gallon of inkjet ink at $8,000 per gallon. A 2007 class-action lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard claimed that customers were told that the ink in the cartridges was running low long before it actually was, thus ‘encouraging’ consumers to buy ink at a faster rate than necessary.

An Iraqi woman voter flashes the victory gesture with her ink-stained index finger at a poll station in the holy city of Karbala on May 12, 2018.

An Iraqi woman voter flashes the victory gesture with her ink-stained index finger at a poll station in the holy city of Karbala on May 12, 2018.

Mohammed Sawaf—AFP/Getty Images

Voting Ink

Indelible ink leaves a stain on the nails and cuticles of more than a billion voters and has ever since its invention in the 1960s. Since its invention, this ink has communicated a single social act – namely, “I voted.”

Indelible voting ink was invented in 1962 by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory in Delhi, just before the third election in a newly independent India to help combat voter fraud. The ink is made with silver nitrate, an inorganic compound commonly used in early photography; it is soluble in water, allowing the silver nitrate to bond with the liquid component of the ink. Once applied, the silver nitrate reacts with salt present in human skin, forming silver chloride, a compound that cannot be removed with any sort of soap or chemical. To this is added pigment – generally violet, black or orange, as was the case of Suriname’s 2005 election. Once the indelible ink is applied to voters’ skin, the pigment will hold fast until the inked skin cells die and slough off — anywhere from a couple of days to up to three weeks.

India has only one authorized manufacturer of voting ink — Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited — and the company has been responsible for making and distributing election ink in India for decades. In 2004, Afghanistan used pens filled with Mysore’s ink to mark voters’ hands during the election. Unfortunately, the ink was not as permanent as election officials had hoped. (In an interview with the BBC, Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited claimed that Afghan election officials used the incorrect pens for the election.) Subsequent Afghan elections using indelible ink have been slightly less contested and indelible ink continues to stand as a simple but effective means of voter verification.

From India to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Ghana, voters’ ink-stained fingers have become a cultural shorthand and symbol of fraud-free, democratic elections.

Lydia Pyne is a writer and historian, specializing in the history of science and material culture.