Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sacred Soil

From the BBC:
"WWI 'sacred soil' ceremony takes place in London"

A ceremony has taken place in London to mark the arrival of "sacred soil" from 70 World War 1 battlefields in Belgium. The soil is going to be laid at a memorial garden marking the 100th anniversary of WW1 in 2014. The soil, collected by British and Belgian schoolchildren and put into 70 sandbags, arrived on the Belgian Navy frigate Louisa Marie on Friday. It went on a ceremonial procession through London before reaching its last resting place at Wellington Barracks. On arrival in London, the Louisa Marie moored alongside HMS Belfast and the soil was transferred to the British light cruiser. The bags were loaded onto the gun carriage of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery along with a crucible of soil from all the battlefields. It was escorted by mounted members of the Household Cavalry from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, and mounted officers from the Metropolitan Police.   The route of the procession passed Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, The Mall and Buckingham Palace. It was blessed in a ceremony at the Guards' Chapel at Wellington Barracks - near Buckingham Palace - and will be placed into the ground at the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden The soil will be placed "at the heart" of the garden where the words of John McCrae's famous poem, In Flanders' Fields, will be inscribed.
With the sound of Jerusalem playing in the background, the youngest member of the Friends of the Guards Museum emptied a ceremonial casket of soil into the memorial garden - which will open to the public next year.  The sandbags of soil were placed at the entrance of the Guards' Chapel and will be added to the garden later on Saturday. More than 1,000 British and Belgian schoolchildren were involved in collecting 70 bags of soil from the battlefields this summer. The Guards Museum - which funded the project with help from public donations and corporate sponsors, including a contribution from the Government of Flanders - described the £700,000 project as "unprecedented" and "historic".
Museum curator Andrew Wallis said the garden would stand as a "tangible demonstration of the bond between Britain and Belgium". The process of bringing the soil to the UK began on Armistice Day with a ceremony at the Menin Gate, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh.

^ All of these symbolic acts shows how the World War continues to affect the countries that fought them even 100 years later. If only Germany had learned from that war and not started another, bigger one we could continue to call it the "War to end all wars." ^

Fixed Healthcare?

From USA Today:
"Deadline's here: Is fixed? Sort of" has doubled its user capacity and eliminated many bugs in time for today's deadline, when the Obama administration pledged the problematic website would operate smoothly "for the vast majority" of people trying to access the site. Jeffrey Zients, who is leading a technical team charged with fixing the website after its disastrous Oct. 1 rollout, said capacity is being increased to 50,000 simultaneous users and more than 800,000 total consumer visits a day. That would allow about 1.84 million people to "comfortably" sign up for health insurance coverage through the federal exchange by Dec. 23, or in time for Jan. 1 coverage, he said at a White House briefing. Potentially more than 9.5 million people could sign up before March 31, or the end of the 2014 enrollment period. "That said, there could be moments in the middle of the day — seems to be the peak — where capacity goes beyond that current user level, at which point there will be a customer-friendly queuing system which would notify you when to come back to the site and sort of be first in line," Zients said. In other words, people will receive an e-mail letting them know when to return to the page. That doesn't mean everything's fixed: Technicians are still working on the back-end functions of the site, or the portion that makes sure insurers get their checks when people who will receive subsidies enroll. As of last week, 30% to 40% of that work remained to be done. Despite improvements, Republicans are continuing to point to the site's delays and failures. Those include delays in online enrollment for the small business exchange; worries over the security of the site; and the need for the administration to release enrollment numbers, which are not scheduled until later in December. First month's enrollment in the the federal exchange fell far short of expectations, with only about 23,000 people choosing and enrolling in insurance plans. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took issue with the small business exchange delay, calling it a sign that the health care law's "issues run much deeper than a failing website." He again called for a one-year delay for the federal and state exchanges, as well as for the individual mandate fee people will have to pay in 2014 if they do not have insurance.
Rather than marketing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the administration found itself focused entirely on fixing the website.

^ Another promise from Obama and his administration broken. First you could "keep your insurance if you already had it" (now you can't) and now the "website would be completely fixed by November 30th" (and it's not.) Excuse after excuse seem to follow these people and their messed-up Obamacare (the website and the system itself.) You really can't seem to trust anything they say. ^

Friday, November 29, 2013

Canadians Welcome Czechs

From the Canadian Embassy in Prague:
"Canada lifts visa requirement for the Czech Republic"

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that, effective immediately, Czech nationals no longer require a temporary resident visa to visit Canada. Czech nationals can now stay in Canada for up to six months visa-free, which is consistent with all other visa exempt nationals.  “Canada values strong ties with our European friends and after working with Czech officials for some time we are pleased to be able to extend visa-free travel for Czech citizens,” said Alexander. “This move is a testament to the strong relationship between Canada and the Czech Republic and reinforces our government’s commitment to facilitate legitimate trade and travel.” A recent visa policy review of the Czech Republic has revealed that it now meets the criteria for a visa exemption. Canada’s visa policy is based on a country-by-country assessment, which looks at several criteria. These include a country’s immigration issues, such as violation rates and asylum claims, the integrity of a country’s travel documents, safety and security issues, border management, human rights, and bilateral relations. Our confidence in lifting the visa requirement is further enhanced by Canada’s improvements to its asylum system, which will serve as an effective deterrence against unfounded asylum claims. In particular, claimants from the Czech Republic will be processed more quickly as it is a designated country of origin, and those whose claims are rejected will be removed from Canada within a few months. “This is great news for both the Czech Republic and Canada,” said Canadian Ambassador Otto Jelinek. “By making it easier for Czechs to visit Canada, we are strengthening the already close cultural and economic ties that exist between our two countries.” Canada is committed to the free and secure movement of people between European Union member states, and we will continue to work in cooperation with all member states.  Under Canada’s immigration law, all visitors to Canada require a visa, except citizens of countries for which an exemption has been granted under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Visa requirements for travellers to Canada are the country’s first line of defence in maintaining the health, safety and security of Canadians.

^ It's nice that Canada and the Czech Republic resolved this issue since it could have had dire consequences for Canadians wanting to visit the EU. Canada still doesn't allow two countries (Bulgaria and Romania) to visit visa-free, but hopefully that will happen soon. ^

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

From USA Today:
"5 things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving"

As you go around the table and express what you're thankful for this year, the regular suspects — your family, good health, the Red Sox's World Series win — will likely make the list.

Here are 5 Thanksgiving-specific things to be thankful for that you may not have thought of:

1. You aren't eating irradiated turkey for dinner: Just because they're about 200 miles above Earth doesn't mean that the two U.S. astronauts aboard the International Space Station won't be able to dig in to a traditional Thanksgiving meal today ... except theirs will be an irradiated, thermostabilized and freeze-dried one.

2. The dinner you are eating is a little cheaper this year: Thanksgiving dinner will cost you a little less this year compared to 2012, according to a 34-state survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation. It determined what a 10-person feast with turkey and all the trimmings — including stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and more — will clock in at.

3. Turkey's tryptophan is not the enemy!: Contrary to what you learned while watching Seinfeld, the turkey you're about to eat today is not the true reason why you're bound to crave a nap after dinner. Yes, there is tryptophan in it, but no, that's not the main culprit behind your desire to snooze.

4. There are 3 states where Black Thursday is banned: No getting up from the dinner table early in Rhode Island, Maine or Massachusetts to do some Thanksgiving Day shopping — thanks to "blue laws" that date back to colonial times.

5. And there are a few Americans who have taken a Black Thursday stand: The owner of a Sears Hometown store in Plymouth, N.H., has rejected the head office's order to open at 7 p.m. tonight, so that her employees can spend the holiday with their families — though she says she has been told she will lose her bonus for the rest of the year as a result.

^ Today is Thanksgiving (it's also Hanukkah - which some people call: Thanksgivukkah.) I just finished eating with my family. While it was a lot of work putting everything together it was well worth it. We tried some new dishes and had some of our traditional ones. I like the list above, but one thing it should say is to not forget the military men and women who are away from home (whether overseas or not.) It's people like them that help us to celebrate the holiday and allows us to be thankful for everything. ^

Monday, November 25, 2013

No Air Phones

From USA Today:
"Cellphones on a plane? Please don't phone home"

Think cramped seats, snoring passengers, crying babies and mediocre — or non-existent— food make flying miserable? Imagine what it will be like to sit next to a person yammering on his or her cellphone. That's what many passengers and airline analysts are contemplating in light of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to review its 22-year ban against in-flight cellphone calls.
The FCC banned cellphone use over concerns that it would jam ground stations. Now the agency says that modern technology has made the use of mobile devices on board safe. The agency will seek public comment if the proposal moves forward. The commission will consider the proposal at a Dec. 12 meeting. The Federal Aviation Administration last month allowed the use of electronic devices such as tablets and iPads during takeoff and landing. But some passengers say letting people make calls is taking things too far. In a world where people seem attached to their cellphones, these passengers say they enjoy the forced respite from cellphones ringing and loud conversations. Allowing cellphone calls, they say, would turn the cabin into a satellite office. "What can be so important that you can't wait until you land?" says Dave Army, a USA TODAY Road Warrior from Prescott, Ariz. "I look forward to not having the phone ring. I do like having Internet access, and the ability to read my iPad at all times, but that's as far as it goes." Experts are torn. Cellphones have been used widely on dozens of airlines in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and few have had problems with them, says Michael Planey, co-founder of H&M Planey Consultants, a consulting practice focused on emerging technology for the travel industry. "They have not had the problems with the behavior and social issues that a lot of people feared," he says. For one thing, he says, long phone calls are cost-prohibitive. Because many airlines charge $2 to $5 a minute for a call, most people end up using their cellphones to send text messages rather than call. "They're not shouting on the phone. They're not having hour-long business discussions. What they're doing is making last-minute arrangements," he says. "The vast majority of these calls are under four minutes in duration, and I don't think it's going to change just because it's going to be in the United States." Brett Snyder, founder of the travel-assistance website and blog The Cranky Flier, points out that planes were once equipped with seatback phones that people could use with the swipe of a credit card. "That's just like back in the old days when they had the GTE Airfones on board," he says. "People didn't use them unless it was very important because it was so expensive."Clint Balog, associate chair of the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, says he believes passengers won't be able to resist talking on their phones for as long as they can. "We live in a culture where people are just glued to these phones more than we realize even to the point of inconsideration of others," says Balog, who has a Ph.D. in psychology. "It's going to be reflective of the culture we live in." Balog foresees scenarios that could end with a flight attendant mediating a conflict. What if it's an overnight flight, and a passenger is trying to sleep while a seatmate is chatting away on the phone? What if a person is stuck in a middle seat in between two people speaking loudly on their phones? "It's going to take an already difficult experience — it's certainly not as much fun to fly on an airline now than it was 20 years ago — and it's going to degrade that experience even more," he says. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA has taken the same position. "People want a peaceful, calm cabin," says Veda Shook, international president for the group and a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines for 22 years. Even Amtrak has had to address tensions among passengers over cellphone use by setting aside a quiet car. "Amtrak's got a quiet car, and it's very popular for a reason," Shook says. "We don't have the option of having a quiet car on an airplane. It's one airplane. There's no way to create a space for someone to have a private conversation." Kevin Schorr, vice president of Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, says there's one party that could benefit from cellphone use on planes: airlines. Airlines have made billions of dollars by charging fees for everything from checking bags to picking seats. "If there's a way for airlines to make money off it, I think they will find some way to," he says. One idea that he cheekily proposed: "They can take out a lavatory and set up a phone booth, and you'd swipe a credit card to get out."

^ I agreed that electronic devices should be allowed on planes, but do not agree that cell phones should be allowed. It will create more problems among the passengers and the crew. Flying right now is already stressful and not as fun as it used to be. Adding cell phones with people constantly talking on the phone would add to that stress. ^

Scottish Question

From the BBC:
"Scottish independence: What would it mean for the rest of the UK?"

In September next year voters in Scotland will go to the polls to decide whether or not to become independent. Campaigners and commentators have made much of the implications for people north of the border - but how would an independent Scotland impact on the rest of the UK and Europe?

Would the Labour Party in the rest of the UK struggle?
There is a theory that the House of Commons would be dominated by the Conservative Party if Scottish MPs were excluded. "If the Scots vote Yes then the UK is heading for its most significant constitutional crisis since the Great Reform Bill clashes of 1830-32," wrote David Aaronovitch.  In 1955 the Conservatives were the biggest party in Scotland, but after that their support slumped. 
"At two elections - 1964 and 1974 - Labour would not have won without Scottish votes. And at the last election, David Cameron would have gained an overall majority if Scotland's votes had been excluded," Aaronovitch wrote.  But Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King's College London, says it would be a mistake to over-egg the impact. The most likely change would be that "Labour would have to tailor its message more to voters in England", which might lead to more Blairite policies, he says. John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University agrees that Scottish independence wouldn't equate to "one party rule" in the rest of the UK. But the double whammy of removing Scottish MPs and boundary changes expected after the 2015 election would help the Conservatives and make things harder for Labour, he says.

Would Wales move towards independence if Scotland leaves the UK?

"At the moment we find that in all surveys, no matter how exactly you ask the question, support for [Welsh] independence is around 10% and hasn't increased at all in the last decade and a half. It is a minority taste and not really a serious option," says Roger Scully, professor of political science at Cardiff University. The Labour Party has dominated the political landscape in Wales since the 1920s, and has been the largest party in the National Assembly every year since its establishment. During a recent visit the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said "a strong Scotland in a strong UK is a positive choice". But Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh equivalent of the SNP, thinks the referendum could be a turning point. In July she said that should Scotland leave the union, Wales would eventually follow. Wood has even hired the same political psychologist used by SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond to help further her party's cause. Scully doesn't think the scenario is unimaginable. "If Scotland becomes independent and is seen as a success, it would change the nature of the debate and independence could become a serious mainstream option."

Would the EU have a new member and what about the Eurozone?

There has already been discussion about how Scotland would be admitted to the EU. Bogdanor says it would have to reapply for EU membership - a wish that would almost certainly be granted. But the terms of accession would be stiff "to deter other regions like Catalonia [in Spain]".  It's been pointed out that new countries joining the EU are formally required to adopt the euro as soon as the relevant criteria have been met. Salmond thinks the country will be able to join the EU while sidestepping that requirement, though. He sees the creation of a "sterling-zone" in which Scotland would share the pound with the UK. "It's almost certain that there'll be a currency agreement, and people will use the pound," says Stuart McDonald of the Yes Scotland campaign, the group championing the bid for independence. Scotland and the rest of the UK are each other's biggest export markets "so it's in our mutual interests that we all carry on using the pound", he suggests. Alistair Darling, who heads the Better Together campaign, has expressed doubts about that possibility, however, saying that the arrangement wouldn't make sense if the countries were pulling apart politically.

How would the national debt for the rest of the UK be affected?

"Most commentators speak about a population share of debt," says McDonald of the Yes Scotland campaign. The Scottish government estimates that total UK debt will be £1.5 trillion in 2016-17, the year independence would take effect in the event of a yes vote. With 8.4% of the UK population, if debt was split according to the per capita ratio, Scotland would take on £122 billion in the year of secession.  One alternative calculation puts the figure at just £56 billion, and Alex Salmond has even suggested that Scotland might walk away from the debt altogether if it is refused the option of entering a "sterling zone". The Better Together campaign says that defaulting on the debt would be "completely irresponsible," and lead to a higher cost of borrowing for the rest of the country. "It would put up my mortgage payments," says campaign director Blair McDougall.

Would Team GB be no more?
 Scottish athletes contributed 14 medals - half of them gold - to Team GB's record Olympic haul. Few will forget Andy Murray's win or Chris Hoy's double cycling gold. Could an independent Scotland dash UK Sport's aim to beat the record tally in Rio 2016, then? The British Olympic Association refused to be drawn on the issue, saying simply that it will be addressed after the referendum has taken place.
Emmanuelle Moreau, of the International Olympic Committee, says one of the requisites for recognising a new nation at the games is that certain "technical conditions" are met - such as having the right federations and clubs. An independent Scotland might be expected to be able to meet these conditions as it already competes as an entity in its own right at the Commonwealth Games, and is set to host the competition in Glasgow next year. Scottish Sport Minister Shona Robison is confident the nation could compete in Brazil should it vote to leave the union. "If Scotland votes for independence we will be an independent country by the time of Rio 2016," she says.

Would a passport be required to cross into Scotland?
  Freedom of movement is currently assured anywhere between Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands - or the Common Travel Area as it is known. Passports are occasionally required for air travel, but when crossing a border by land they're not needed. Better Together argue that there is no guarantee that will continue with an independent Scotland.  But imposing any restrictions would be a massive undertaking and contradict the current arrangement in Ireland where people are free to drive between Northern Ireland and the Republic without restrictions. Neither the UK nor the Republic of Ireland are part of the Schengen Agreement - which allows passport-free travel between many other EU countries. Laurie Price, a travel expert with consultancy Mott Macdonald says that if an independent Scotland was forced to join Schengen when re-applying for EU membership, complications could arise.

Would people in the UK need to use an international dialling tone to ring Scotland?

An independent Scotland would need to decide whether to keep using the +44 international dialling code currently used for the entire UK. Neither campaign has given serious thought to the issue, and it is possible for separate countries to share a single code - the US and Canada both use +1. When the Czech Republic and Slovakia split in 1993, each country acquired its own three digit code, as did newly formed South Sudan in 2011. A spokesman for the International Telecommunication Union says that should Scotland refuse to share the +44 code, it would have to take a three digit alternative, with +422 being the most obvious spare extension.
Would the UK lose oil revenue?

The SNP are in little doubt about who should control the British North Sea oilfields. "It's Scotland's oil" was the party's famous slogan back in the 1970s, and it remains of vital importance today. A 2011 poll suggested that a majority of Scots would vote to quit the UK if they would be £500 a year better off, but would choose to stay if the figure was reversed.  Tax revenues of some £300bn have poured into the UK Treasury - from 40 billion barrels of oil over the last 40 years. Between 15 and 24 billion barrels are thought to remain, even before any potential new discoveries, so losing the oil fields would result in less money for the Exchequer. By using a "median line" to mark out a swathe of ocean around the Scottish coast, some 90% of the oil falls in Scottish waters. Conversely, divvying up the reserves according to population share would leave Scotland with less than 10%. No negotiations have taken place, but most analysts suspect the former option is more realistic, and is in line with the most international agreements. One think tank has suggested selling the oil fields back to the UK government in return for a lower share of national debt. "It may well be in Scotland's best interests to do an oil for debt swap," says Monique Ebell of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research - a move that would see the oil fields remain in the possession of the rest of the UK.

Where would the UK station its nuclear weapons?

The UK has four Vanguard Class submarines carrying Trident nuclear warheads - and operating out of the Faslane naval base on the Clyde. But the SNP wants nuclear weapons removed from an independent Scotland at the earliest opportunity. Some believe that could prove difficult to square with Nato obligations.  "Nato is an explicitly nuclear alliance with the US threatening to use nuclear weapons to uphold the security of every member - that's non-negotiable. The SNP hasn't thought through the implications of being a member," says Richard Reeve, of the Oxford Research Group think tank. Salmond believes Scotland could become a member of Nato while still insisting on the removal of the warheads. In that event, where could they go? Before Faslane was chosen in the 1960s, two other sites were considered - Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and Devonport in Plymouth. Like Faslane, both have easy access to deep water, but neither is now regarded as suitable for a nuclear weapons site. One solution could be to keep the submarines at Devonport and construct a warhead storage facility near Falmouth, where the submarines could access them. "But this might be a controversial addition to an area with such a popular tourism industry," says Hugh Chalmers, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.  A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence would only say that there are "no plans to move the nuclear deterrent", but that a vote in favour of independence would trigger a lengthy set of negotiations.

Would UK citizens get seamless medical care in Scotland?

Proponents of independence are quick to point out that the Scottish NHS has effectively been an independent entity since its creation some 65 years ago. Any resident of the UK is able to receive treatment in Scotland through a contractual arrangement it has with NHS England. They share specialist services too, so patients can benefit from expert doctors and facilities regardless of their geographic locations. But the Better Together campaign predicts confusion in the case of independence. "If we leave the UK, we would be replacing a simple, internal relationship with an international, cross-border one," McDougall says.  Whatever arrangement is made, patients will receive a minimum level of cover, according to European rules that enable EU residents to receive treatment in most European nations. McDonald, of the Yes Scotland campaign, argues that disruption isn't in the interest of either side, and doesn't foresee major problems as a result. "The solution is already there," he says.

Would Northern Ireland's position be changed?

Earlier this month the Economist wrote that "the greatest threat to Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom now comes from outside Ireland rather than within it".  Historically it shares strong cultural links with Scotland, but there has been no mention of a political bond between the two should the larger nation break away. A spokesman for the DUP argues that Scottish secession would not change the desire to stay within what remained of the UK. "If Scotland were to leave we'd regret it, but that wouldn't ultimately change our place in the UK," he says, claiming that the union has never been more popular amongst Northern Irish voters. There is a view that if Scotland left the UK it would weaken the union and make a united Ireland more attractive, however. A spokesperson for Sinn Fein says the issue is one for the Scots to decide themselves, but calls for the British government to hold a border poll referendum "in the lifetime of the next assembly".

^ This was very informative. I have been to the UK and Scotland many times and I don't think much would change for the tourist, but it is interesting to see how it could impact the Scots and the rest of the UK. ^

A Windy Tale

Yesterday, has to be one of the worst days I have experienced since moving here several years ago. I learned right away that the weathermen here were usually wrong. What they forecast for the southern part of the state (where most people live) means very little to me. In fact it could rain or snow on my mountain and when I drive to my mailbox a mile away it could be sunny. This time the weatherman said that we would only get a frigid Artic air-mass with strong winds. While we did get that we also got snow. I shoveled the snow during the night and then again in the morning. While outside it was pretty cold, but only a little windy (not the 30-40 mph they said.) My family and I went out to do our errands (since the weathermen said there would be a major storm Tuesday and Wednesday and we wanted to make sure we had everything for Thanksgiving. We had no issues for the most part until we were a few streets from our house. We found a large tree had fallen on the road blocking the way (you couldn't even drive around it on the shoulder.) There were also several electric and telephone wires all over. I had to go to the local kennel - since cell service in the town is very spotty. I called the town police and told them of the problem. They told me that a fire truck was already on its way. A few minutes later the fire and police did come. Since it was so cold we decided to let them fix the problem while we drove to the next town and had something to at the only place open at 5 pm on a Sunday. Two hours later we decided to drive back and see if everything was all-set. Rather than seeing people still working all we saw were three, small cones blocking the road - no signs, etc. My dad got out of the car and walked past the cones to see what was going on. Apparently, everyone left right after we did without doing a thing. It looked exactly as it did when we first saw it. This is the one and only way to our house (and to about 10 other houses) and yet the "professionals" decided to give up and go home without fixing the problem. We managed to get signal on our cell phone and first called the town's non-emergency number, but as usual it went to voicemail so we called 9-1-1. When we were dispatched to the town they didn't seem to care. We asked them what we were supposed to do as we had someone with us who needs medicine (that was at the house) and dogs at home that needed to be taken care of. We also asked them what plans they had to shelter us. In the end, they did nothing for us. These so-called professionals - the people whose sole job is to help others in their time of need - did not care what happened to us or the other families affected. They were probably too "busy" watching their TV shows and making Thanksgiving plans. Eventually, some local people drove from the opposite side of the tree from us and used a chainsaw to cut the tree and move part of it from the road. The wires were still on one side, but you could drive around them. So we did. We drove home. We were so thankful to these neighbors - that we don't really know - for their help and concern (especially after the officials had given-up before they even had tried.) I know that these neighbors could have had a selfish motive - they too need to get in and out and that is the only road - but they didn't have to do it so fast to make sure we could get back home. This experience has really shown me the truth. You can not and should not expect the "professionals" (the police, fire, medics, doctors, etc) to do their job and help you because they will only disappoint you. I'm sure most of them (especially those around here) only took the jobs for the paycheck and the uniform and not out of the desire to help others. When we got home we found out electricity out (no surprise as the power lines were on the road) but our generator is working as is our Internet and TV satellites. I am not sure when or if the town will come and finish the job (clear the rest of the tree and get the electric company to restore the power.) Hopefully, it will be early today so we can go back out, but I won't be holding my breath.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holodomor: 80th

From the BBC:
"Holodomor: Memories of Ukraine's silent massacre"

Eighty years ago, millions of Ukrainians died in a famine that many label a genocide by the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. As Ukraine prepares to embark on its annual memorial events, the BBC's David Stern finds that memories of the massacre are undimmed for many. Nina Karpenko, an energetic 87-year-old, demonstrates what it took to survive Ukraine's Stalin-era famine, known as the Holodomor, or "death by hunger". Some cheap cornmeal, wheat chaff, dried nettle leaves and other weeds - this was the essence of life during the horrific winter and early spring of 1932-33 in Ukraine.
As Ms Karpenko tells her story, she kneads the ingredients into a dull green mass, adding water and a little salt, which she then fashions into a patty. She calls it bread, though it barely fits this description.
Then she spreads wax shavings on a pan to keep the patty from sticking and burning, and places it in an oven. Ms Karpenko's father died early on. His legs swelled up and he expired when trying to consume a small amount of food - a common occurrence among those close to starvation.  Her mother walked 15km (nine miles) to a nearby town to see if she could obtain something to eat for Ms Karpenko and her brother and sister. She exchanged her earrings and a gold cross she wore around her neck for about 2kg of flour. Ms Karpenko takes the bread from the oven when it is ready. It is tough and tastes like grass. But thanks to this weed loaf, and a horsehide that her mother cut into pieces and boiled for soup, the Karpenko family managed to survive until the spring, when they could forage in the nearby forest. Others in their village, Matskivtsi, in central Ukraine, were not as fortunate. "There was a deathly silence," she says. "Because people weren't even conscious. They didn't want to speak or to look at anything."  "They thought today that person died, and tomorrow it will be me. Everyone just thought of death." Ukrainians mark a Holodomor Remembrance Day every year on the fourth Saturday of November. Some historians, like Yale University's Timothy Snyder, who has done extensive research in Ukraine, place the number of dead at roughly 3.3 million. Others say the number was much higher. Whatever the actual figure, it is a trauma that has left a deep and lasting wound among this nation of 45 million. Entire villages were wiped out, and in some regions the death rate reached one-third. The Ukrainian countryside, home of the "black earth", some of the most fertile land in the world, was reduced to a silent wasteland. Cities and roads were littered with the corpses of those who left their villages in search of food, but perished along the way. There were widespread reports of cannibalism. Ms Karpenko says that when school resumed the following autumn, two thirds of the seats were empty.  But the pain of the Holodomor comes not only from the unfathomable number of dead. Many people believe the causes were man-made and intentional. A genocide. They say that Joseph Stalin wanted to starve into submission the rebellious Ukrainian peasantry and force them into collective farms. The Kremlin requisitioned more grain than farmers could provide. When they resisted, brigades of Communist Party activists swept through the villages and took everything that was edible. "The brigades took all the wheat, barley - everything - so we had nothing left," says Ms Karpenko. "Even beans that people had set aside just in case. "The brigades crawled everywhere and took everything. People had nothing left to do but die."  As the hunger mounted, Soviet authorities took extra measures, such as closing off Ukraine's borders, so that peasants could not travel abroad and obtain food. This amounted to a death sentence, experts say.
"The government did everything it could to prevent peasants from entering other regions and looking for bread," says Oleksandra Monetova, from Kiev's Holodomor Memorial Museum.   "The officials' intentions were clear. To me it's a genocide. I have no doubt." But for others, the question is still open. Russia in particular objects to the genocide label, calling it a "nationalistic interpretation" of the famine. Kremlin officials insist that, while the Holodomor was a tragedy, it was not intentional, and other regions in the Soviet Union suffered at that time. Kiev and Moscow have clashed over the issue in the past. But Ukraine's present leader Viktor Yanukovych echoes the Kremlin line, saying it was "incorrect and unjust" to consider the Holodomor "the genocide of a certain people". Mr Yanukovych's government still takes care to commemorate fully the destruction that the famine wrought. This year's Remembrance Day will feature a number of different ceremonies and prayer services, as well as the world premier of a Holodomor opera, Red Earth Hunger, by Virko Baley.
Mr Baley, an American composer who was born in Ukraine, supports efforts to have the Holodomor recognised internationally as genocide. "You have to admit that it was done, if you want to have any kind of human progress," he says. "You can't wrap it up and say that it wasn't."

^ The picture above is one I took when I was in Kiev (or Kyiv as the Ukrainians call it.) There was an exhibition (I was there in November and didn't know that it was coming up to the Holodomor Remembrance Day.) What happened in the Ukraine was man-made and imposed from Moscow (capital of the then Soviet Union) and I would consider it a genocide just as the Turks killing Armenians during World War 1 is. If those in Moscow at the time wanted to help the people of the Ukraine to survive then they wouldn't have closed the internal borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic with the rest of the country and would have tried to give the people even basic rations (the way they managed to do in Leningrad when the Germans had it surrounded for nearly 900 days.) It seems the Remembrance Day comes at a time of great divide within the Ukraine. Just a few days ago the Ukrainian (Pro-Russian) Government decreed they were moving away from the European Union and moving back within Russia's sphere of influence - which triggered thousands of pro-EU Ukrainians to demonstrate against the move. I am not sure if the decision was made because of the anniversary was coming up, but it seems highly likely that it was as to show Ukraine's commitment to Russia. ^

Nuremberg Transcripts

From the Stars and Stripes:
"WWII Army vet donates historic Nuremberg trial transcripts to Holocaust Museum"

A one-time U.S. Army reporter during World War II donated a never-before-published transcript of radio coverage of the Nuremberg war crimes trials of Nazi leaders to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Tuesday — 68 years to the day after he began reporting on the landmark military tribunal. Harold Burson covered the trials in 1945 and 1946 for the American Forces Network. He wrote extensive scripts for on-air announcers who were broadcasting to U.S. soldiers in Europe and to the English-speaking population in Germany during the first Nuremberg trial. Burson, now 92, delivered his collection of 40 scripts to curators Tuesday. The broadcast recordings have been lost. After the war years, Burson went on to create the large public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. In 1945, 22 Nazi political, military and economic leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for crimes against humanity. Three were acquitted, 12 were executed, three were sent to prison for life, and four others were imprisoned for 10 to 20 years, according to museum records. The Nuremberg trials produced the first legal documentation and evidence of genocide by the Nazis during World War II, before their atrocities were referred to as the Holocaust. The transcripts will be a new resource for researchers studying the Holocaust and the precedent for international military tribunals set by Nuremberg, said Scott Miller, the museum's director of curatorial affairs. "This is an incredible eyewitness primary source of history," Miller said. "He was witnessing the testimony of Nazi criminals, the captured German photos, the captured German film footage, the captured German documents that were shown at Nuremberg, shown to the world for the first time. He witnessed them become the evidence of the Holocaust." Burson was 24 when he began reporting on the courtroom scene, the defendants and the key players. He joined about 200 other news reporters covering the first trial. "To me, it was exhilarating because these were arguably the best news people in the world," Burson told The Associated Press. "My audience was primarily the million or so soldiers who were still in Europe and had fought the war." Burson said surveys at the time also showed the American military radio network was one of the most trusted sources of news in Germany after the war because people believed the U.S. Army would not lie to its troops. So Burson was under orders to report for English-speaking people in Germany as well. "General Eisenhower wanted the German people to know exactly what happened and how the war began and how it was prosecuted by the Nazi regime," he said. The United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain and France all supplied judges and a prosecution team for the trials. Burson reported on efforts to make the trials fair and legitimate for the defendants, including paying for defense lawyers. "It was, I think, an honest effort to do so," he said. "Of course, I don't think it's possible to overcome the fact that the winner is trying the loser." "This was still new to the world," Miller said of Burson's accounts. "It was fresh and raw."

^ It is always more valuable to have first-hand accounts of historical accounts and this is one of those. It is also good that he delivered them to the USHMM in DC so that historians and others can see and learn from it rather than it simply collecting dust someplace hidden. ^

Australian GG Republic

From the BBC:
"Australia's governor-general Bryce in republic call"

The Queen's representative in Australia has reportedly become the first serving governor-general to publicly back the country becoming a republic.  Quentin Bryce, 70, made the comments during a speech in Sydney in which she outlined a future vision for Australia. "Perhaps one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation's first head of state," she said, reigniting the republic debate. Australians voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum. The country is a parliamentary democracy that retains Britain's monarch as its head of state. In the 1999 vote, Australians opted to preserve the status quo, with Queen Elizabeth II remaining as the head of state - although the republican movement was split between those who wanted an elected president and those who preferred a parliamentary appointee. The issue has largely fallen into the political doldrums in Australia in recent years.  Ms Bryce, the country's first female governor-general, was appointed in 2008 by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2008. Her term ends in March next year.
Her comments, made at the end of a four-part lecture series, have reignited a debate about the nation's ties to Britain.  "We will always be friends with Britain, but now we should be equals," said Geoff Gallop, the head of the Australian Republican Movement"We need an unambiguous, independent national identity that reflects and celebrates our freedom, our unity, our values of the fair go and our place in the world."  However, David Flint of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy described her comments as "a pity". "The constitutional system requires that the Crown be above politics... it goes against the position. There are a number of people who are now going to wonder about her.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch royalist who used to be the executive director of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, said Ms Bryce was entitled to her opinion. "It's more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view on a number of subjects and that's what she was doing, she was expressing a personal view and, as you would expect from Quentin Bryce, she did it with grace and style," he said.

^ She should be kicked out of office right now rather than when her term ends next March. Her sole job as Governor-General is to represent Queen Elizabeth 2nd (Queen of Australia) when the Queen is not in the country and so to say that the Monarchy should be done away with and a Republic made goes against her job description. I do not think any major Commonwealth Realm country (ie Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc) will ever become a Republic while Queen Elizabeth is still in power.) Whether Australia or any Commonwealth Realm wants to become a Republic (although the Australian people voted against it in 1999) is a separate debate. The main issue here is how the GG abused her position and over-stepped her authority. I'm sure the Australian Government and the Queen won't do anything to punish her so they don't add more attention to her comments. ^

Moscow Guide

From MT: 
"Moscow Public Transport Guide to Be Created in Five Languages"

Moscow Metro has announced a tender for the development of a multi-language transport guidebook that will make it easier for people to get around the city. The guide will be published in Russian, English, French, German and Chinese and will contain maps of the city, the metro system, as well as bicycle, water and pedestrian routes, according to the tender, published on the government's procurement website. Timetables and routes of all public transport in Moscow and a map show the locations of bicycle hire stations will also be included, Interfax reported Friday. It will also provide information on Moscow's sights, parks and hotels. The guide will be distributed at metro stations, airports, railway stations and department stores. The contract winner must create 5,000 copies of the guide in each of the five languages and a short version of the guide in Russian within 270 days. They will also have to update the guide every six months and create a version of the guide for mobile phones. The contract is worth 101 million rubles ($3 million) and the winner is expected to be announced on Dec.19.

^ This is long over-do. When I first went to Russia and didn't speak a word of Russian you could over get these kinds of guides in Russian. I guess it was better than in Soviet Times when the guidebooks and maps were made years before the actual places were so you could be looking for a certain Metro station that wouldn't be built for years. After I knew enough Russian to be able to use the guides they didn't really have a whole lot of information in them (especially for a tourist in a strange city.) Hopefully, these guidebooks will be both informative and up-to-date. ^

German Wage

From the BBC:
"Angela Merkel clears way for national minimum wage"

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has signalled the likely introduction of a national minimum wage in Germany. Mrs Merkel, speaking at a meeting of business leaders, said that it was clear that the opposition SPD "would not conclude coalition negotiations without a legal minimum wage". The chancellor's own party has long opposed a national minimum wage. Negotiations to form a new government after elections in September are continuing between the two parties. Mrs Merkel was giving the opening address at a conference of business leaders organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The chancellor was sending a signal to the Social Democrats (SPD) that she is prepared to compromise, the paper writes. The outcome of the election meant that a grand coalition between the SPD and Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats, along with their Bavarian sister party, is the most feasible governing combination. The CDU's coalition partner in the outgoing German government, the Free Democrats, failed to win any seats in the new Bundestag.

^ It's about time Germany. You have been so ultra-socialist since the late 1800s when you created the first nation-wide healthcare and yet you don't have a national minimum wage? That makes no sense. Apparently, the debate is far from over so they may not pass it into law. ^

Friday, November 22, 2013

Canadians Remember

From the Globe and Mail:
"‘Everybody was in shock’: Canadians remember the day JFK was assassinated"

  It was just another Friday in 1963 with all the time in the world for Canadians to struggle through school classes, go for a walk or even skip work to shake off a winter bug. But when a man fired gunshots south of the border and ended a president’s life, Canadians were quick to join their American neighbours in mourning.  Men and women across the country still recall the precise moment at which they heard that U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been struck by an assassin’s bullet. Times, places events and emotions remain as vivid today as they did when they unfolded 50 years ago, they said. Rodger Campbell, 64, distinctly recalls the flu that kept him back from work that day. From a couch in his Toronto home, Campbell said he unwittingly wound up watching history unfold in something very close to real time. “I was watching television just idly and feeling miserable,” all of a sudden they broke into the news and it was Walter Cronkite talking about the fact that Kennedy had been shot,“ Campbell said in an interview. Phyl Good was a seven-year-old student in Calgary, but said her youth did nothing to dim her memory of a day that traumatized nearly every adult around her. Good recalls watching her usually stoic mother become visibly upset as she watched the non-stop television coverage of Kennedy’s death. The event itself made an impression on Good despite the fact that she believed the fallen politician to be the leader of Canada. The Cuban Missile Crisis had loomed large in children’s lives just a year before, she said, adding she and her classmates had even undergone practice drills to teach diligence in the face of an attack. She said Kennedy’s involvement in that saga had been enough to force the American president into the orbit of even the youngest and least politically astute Canadian. “President Kennedy was already in my consciousness at the time because we knew that was a tense and scary thing too, and he was associated with that,” she said. “That obviously made quite an impression on me.” School figured even more prominently in Gerry McGuire’s recollections of the day. He was a nine-year-old in Duncan. B.C. when a teacher brought a television into his grade four classroom. He and his peers watched in shock as reports suggested the president may live, only to ultimately reverse course and announce his death. “Everybody was in shock. Classes were dismissed early, and I walked home on rural roads by myself. As I started to climb the one hill on the way I cried,” McGuire said in an email.
“It’s funny how I didn’t cry until I got to the hill. The physical effort required released the emotion that was overwhelming me.” Francine Melmer’s memories focus more specifically on the aftermath of the tragedy that shook the world. After rumours of Kennedy’s death filtered through her London, Ont. high school, she watched in shock as her entire world ground to a halt. “Everyone was glued to their TV sets. They cancelled all social engagements for that weekend, and they watched the recap of the shootings,” the 64-year-old said. Not just the assassination, but the fate of the assassin held the people in her life spellbound, Melmer said. “People were watching TV live when (Lee Harvey) Oswald was shot, which had never happened before.” Many people said the president’s death ushered in a time of fear and desolation for those who had been captivated by the Kennedys and the liberal ideals they represented. Melmer said the loss hit workaday people hard because of the combination of glamour and down-to-earth charm that made him easier to relate to. For Campbell, Kennedy’s death marked the end of what many saw as a golden era. “It was a time of Camelot,” he said. “It was a time when everybody thought the world was going to change because of John F. Kennedy and what he was able to do.” Even half a century later, some people still struggle to make sense of Kennedy’s untimely death. McGuire suspects the course of history would have changed if Kennedy had lived.
For 62-year-old Gayla Mayman of Toronto, the anniversary is just one more reminder of a painful time. “I still get broken up about it,” she said. “It’s a very sad story.”

^ I have already written about Americans remembering where they were when JFK was shot and now I am wanted to show where Canadians where. It seems that they are exactly the same as Americans at the time (if you take out the geographic place-names it could be anywhere USA.) It is surprising considering that Canada was heavily British owned and operated in 1963 and yet they hear the news from the American Cronkite. JFK made a comment in 1961 about Canadian-US relations: "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder." The seems to sum everything up quite well including why so many Canadians loved him just as much as Americans did. ^

Who's Who: '63

From Yahoo:
"Remembering the key players and witnesses in the JFK assassination"

Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the case continues to transfix Americans. Millions of people's lives were forever affected on November 22, 1963. Below, a look at some of the key people from one of the most talked-about crimes in history.

John F. Kennedy:
The 35th president of the United States was shot while riding in an open top limousine through downtown Dallas. Kennedy was just 46 at the time of his death, and though he was only in office for a few years, his influence is still felt today. Among his accomplishments were the establishment of the Peace Corps, the successful navigation of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and leading the charge to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Many of Kennedy's faults have come to light since his passing, but few presidents remain as highly regarded.

Jackie Kennedy:
The former first lady passed away in 1994 in New York City at the age of 64. Five years after the death of President Kennedy and shortly after the slaying of Bobby Kennedy, Jackie married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis,
sparking a large controversy. The two remained married until his death in 1975. Jackie moved back to New York where she began a successful career in book publishing. Like her first husband, Jackie lived in the White House for just a few years, but her grace, class and style remain the stuff of legend.

Lee Harvey Oswald:A short time after Kennedy was shot, authorities grabbed Lee Harvey Oswald, the supposed lone gunman who used a sniper rifle from a nearby book depository. Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby two days later while in police custody. Much has been written about Oswald and whether he was truly the lone gunman or, as he put it, "a patsy." The Warren Commission, which was formed to find answers about the assassination, found that he acted alone. But 50 years later, many people aren't so sure.

Jack Ruby:
Ruby part of a mass conspiracy or just a murderous nightclub manager? Like so many other aspects of the death of JFK, the questions surrounding Ruby continue to be debated. One thing that has never been up for contention is that Ruby killed Oswald just two days after JFK's death. The shooting, which was committed in a police station basement and broadcast on live television to millions of horrified viewers, led many to wonder if Ruby was acting on behalf of the mafia. The Warren Commission found that Ruby was not part of any conspiracy. Ruby was found guilty of murder in 1964. He died of cancer three years later at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the same place where Oswald died and where JFK was pronounced dead.

Abraham Zapruder:The Zapruder film is perhaps the most studied motion picture in the history of the medium. Shot by Abraham Zapruder on the day of Kennedy's death, the 8 mm film captured the exact moment when Kennedy was shot. Zapruder sold his film to Life magazine for $150,000 and donated $25,000 to the widow of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer who was allegedly shot and killed by Oswald the same day as JFK. Zapruder died in 1970 after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 66.

John and Nellie Connally:Riding with John and Jackie Kennedy that fateful day were John and Nellie Connally. John Connally, then the governor of Texas, was seriously wounded during the assassination. He recovered from his injuries and went on to become the Secretary of the Navy and later the Secretary of the Treasury. He died in 1993. Nellie Connally was sitting in front of Mrs. Kennedy when JFK was struck. While riding in the limousine, moments before JFK was shot, she supposedly told Kennedy, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you." Nellie Connally dedicated much of her life to diabetes and breast cancer awareness. She died in 2006.

Sarah Hughes:One of the most iconic photos surrounding the tragic events of the JFK assassination is the image of Lyndon Baines Johnson being sworn in as president aboard Air Force One, as a stunned Jackie Kennedy stands nearby. The person performing the ceremony was U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes, the only woman to ever administer the presidential oath of office. Hughes died in 1985 at the age of 88.

Clint Hill:The Zapruder film shows a man leaping onto the back of the presidential limosine moments after Kennedy was shot. That person was Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who dove atop JFK and Jackie, shielding them with his body. Hill's testimony painted a gruesome picture of the shooting's aftermath. He testified that Mrs. Kennedy was "completely covered in blood" and that JFK's brain had been exposed by the bullet wound. Hill served on the Secret Service until 1975. He has written two books about his experiences.

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and John F. Kennedy, Jr.:Fortunately, President Kennedy's children were not in Dallas the day their father was killed. Their nanny, Maude Shaw, had to tell the two children their father had been killed. JFK Jr. went on to become a lawyer and publish his own magazine, "George." He died in a plane crash in 1999, along with his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg now serves as the United States ambassador to Japan. She is married and has three children with her husband, artist Edwin Schlossberg.

^ It is sometimes hard to remember who the important "players" in a particular event are and this is a good summary. It also tells what they later went on to do and what happened to them after Noemeber 22, 1963. ^

Remember Dallas

From Yahoo:
"On 50th anniversary of JFK death, Dallas holds its first memorial"

 Dallas will observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on Friday with its first official ceremony to mark the event seen as the darkest day in the city's history. Kennedy will be remembered with prayers, a speech by Mayor Mike Rawlings and military jets flying over the city's Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot.The ceremony, which starts at 11:30 a.m. (1730 GMT), is set to coincide with the time of day Kennedy's motorcade passed through packed downtown streets 50 years ago. Only 5,000 people will be able to view ceremonies in Dealey Plaza but video screens will be set up throughout downtown. For previous anniversaries, conspiracy theorists who say there was a plot to kill Kennedy have usually taken over Dealey Plaza, denouncing the official line that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and fired three shots at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.They have come to Dallas in force this year but will not be part of the official event."His death forever changed our city, as well as the world," Rawlings said in a statement ahead of the anniversary. "We want to mark this tragic day by remembering a great president with the sense of dignity and history he deserves." Dallas was seen as a pariah city for years after the November 22, 1963, assassination and avoided any commemoration. That stigma started to fade decades ago and now, The Sixth Floor Museum in the former Texas School Book Depository is one of the city's largest tourists attractions. "Dallas came under a great deal of international criticism after the assassination. It was called the 'City of Hate,'" said Stephen Fagin, associate curator The Sixth Floor Museum Amid the Cold War paranoia and simmering racial tension of the 1960s, a small but influential group of arch-conservatives protested Kennedy's visit to Texas, saying he was soft on communism and should stay away. In recent days, the city removed a large "X" embedded into the pavement by an unknown person or people that marked the spot on Elm Street where Kennedy was shot in the head. The "X" had been seen as tasteless by many while the official observance - a small plaque on the plaza's noted "grassy knoll" - had been criticized as inadequate. After thousands of books, news articles, TV shows, movies and documentaries on that fateful day in Dallas, surveys show a majority of Americans still believe in the conspiracy theories, distrusting evidence pointing to Oswald as the sole killer. Hugh Ayensworth, a reporter in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago who witnessed the assassination and also saw Oswald shot dead by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, has spent a lifetime investigating the killings and debunking suspected plots. "We can't accept very comfortably that two nobodies, two nothings - Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby - were able to change the course of world history," he told Reuters.

^ Dallas (and the state of Texas) should be held partially responsible for JFK's death (along with Oswald's.) I have seen many interviews and shows about the events and they all say the same thing: that this was the largest security operation for the city and they were well prepared..They said that about Kennedy coming and then then the same thing about Oswald being arrested. Apparently, they didn't learn in the few days from Kennedy's death and Oswald's that they should do things differently. Of course the Secret Service and FBI are also to blame (along with Oswald.) The FBI Office in Dallas didn't do their job correctly in tracking Oswald (someone who defected to the USSR and then came back home with a Russian wife at a time where saying you were Communist was criminal.) The Secret Service didn't protect JFK on his car nor did they catch Oswald when they ran up to the Book Depository looking for the shooter and let him go (where he later killed a policeman.) The city and people of Dallas in 1963 are also to blame as there were countless threats against Kennedy before and during his visit. They were racist and arrogant (I have been to Texas many times and will never understand why the majority of Texans are so arrogant when most have no reason to be - ie not successful.) I have also been to Dallas and did not care for the city or its people (and it has nothing to do with JFK or his death,) ^


From Yahoo:
"How the JFK assassination transformed media coverage"

 Six seconds in Dallas 50 years ago changed the way media worked for decades to come. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was a transformative live, global TV news event. It swept an industry without a playbook for covering a breaking story of such magnitude and utterly changed how people receive their news. For four days, starting with gunfire in Dallas and ending with Kennedy's funeral procession in Washington, major U.S. TV networks went live with wall-to-wall coverage, suspending commercials. Other live TV news events followed, and the next time networks devoted as much time to commercial-free news broadcasts came with the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. "The Kennedy assassination became the template for coverage," said Bob Schieffer, who 50 years ago covered the event for the Fort Worth Star Telegram and is now a veteran broadcaster with CBS. "We were working in one of the worst moments of the nation's life back then and we didn't know what to make of it, much like what happened on 9/11," he told Reuters. The technology was primitive in 1963, but the idea was born of broadcasting live from the scene, having an anchor for the coverage and letting the images do the talking when possible. Some of the tasks were daunting, such as moving studio TV cameras that weighed hundreds of pounds into places such as Dallas police headquarters and stringing heavy cables up a wall and through the police chief's office. By the time the White House confirmed Kennedy's death just after 1:30 that Friday, 45.4 percent of U.S. homes with a television had their sets in use, according to ratings agency Nielsen. On Monday, soon after the caisson carrying Kennedy's coffin arrived at Arlington National Cemetery, 81 percent of U.S. homes with a television had their sets in use, one of the highest TV ratings in U.S. history, Nielsen said. Mourning and a sense of loss were visceral, with a survey at the time saying about two-thirds of Americans watching the events fell ill or felt emotional distress.  Newspapers and radio were the main sources of news the day before the assassination, but the pendulum had swung. "This is when America became a TV nation," said Patty Rhule, a senior manager of exhibits at the Newseum, a museum for the news industry in Washington. In 1950 only 9 percent of U.S. households had television. By 1960 it was 90 percent, and the telegenic Kennedy family was part of the draw. The look of TV changed as well as the technology. At the time of the assassination, NBC and ABC anchors broadcast from studios that slightly resembled living rooms. Yet the enduring video image is of Walter Cronkite reporting on Kennedy's death for CBS, which moved its camera to the newsroom - a decision that seemed to increase the authority of its broadcasts and which others would follow. Instant replay, a technology CBS planned to roll out a few weeks later for the Army-Navy college football game, made its national debut when Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald dead in the basement of the Dallas police building.Japan's first satellite TV broadcast carried news of the JFK assassination. The initial plan was to receive a prerecorded message from Kennedy. Instead, Japanese learned of his death. "The fact that the tragedy was brought live into people's houses made for compelling viewing, no matter where you were," said Gary Mack, curator of The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, housed in the former Texas School Book Depository from which Oswald shot Kennedy. "TV networks realized it was so much easier to connect to people and also that they now had to be prepared to cover everything," said Mack, whose museum is the main holder of documents and artifacts surrounding the assassination. Reporters were given far more access than is imaginable today, walking up to the body of the president at Parkland Hospital, where he was taken. They camped out with police, demanding Oswald be paraded before them. Much was caught on camera, surprising many viewers with the rawness of how news was put together. After Ruby shot Oswald, the first murder broadcast nationally on U.S. television, Dallas police mostly ended the "perp walk" for cameras. American officials generally started to keep the media at a greater distance, with many other governments following suit. Cynicism also grew in the public, with many asking if the official version of Oswald acting alone were true. The Vietnam War, race riots in U.S. cities as well as the assassinations of JFK's brother and civil rights leader Martin Luther King further disillusioned many Americans in the 1960s. "From that weekend, we began to question everything in the country," said Schieffer, "even things that we had taken for granted."

^ It's a little odd that it took the assassination to make TV mobile. You would think there were other, important events before the killing that would be news worthy. Of course the event was very important and needed to be shown. I like to read these kind of things that portray life in "simpler" times. ^

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Social JFK

From USA Today:
"Rieder: If JFK had been shot in the social media era"

The traumatic assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, marked the debut of live, round-the-clock TV coverage of big news. Here's how it might have played out on social.

11:37 a.m.: The president and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas. They embark on a motorcade through the city accompanied by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, as well as Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife, Nellie.
• Pics and video of the Kennedys flood Instagram. Vines are tweeted and retweeted, as are pics of Jackie with red roses.
• Selfies taken along the parade route are shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat.

12:30 p.m.: Three shots are fired at the Kennedy motorcade at Dealey Plaza.
• Tweets instantly begin appearing about the shots and about the chaos at the scene.
• Photos of Secret Service agents rushing to the president's limousine appear on Facebook.
• Speculation about just what has happened floods Twitter and Facebook, as does concern about the fate of the president. (Was he shot?).
• "I'm here. I'm OK" tweets start appearing.

12:35 p.m.: The networks announce that the president has been shot. The presidential limousine arrives at Parkland Hospital.
• The first and most iconic tweets and Instagrams receive a string of replies from news organizations, asking for more information and permission to repost.
• People along the route tweet and Instagram pics of the motorcade speeding to the hospital and share photos on Facebook.
• "What's going on?" tweets proliferate.

12:40 p.m.: Abraham Zapruder uploads his raw footage of the assassination to YouTube. So do many others.
• Hashtags such as #Dallas and #Presidentshot start trending and abound on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and G+.
• Twitter is overwhelmed with reports that Johnson has been hit, that Connally was shot. Apprehension about the fate of the First Lady mounts, and the hashtag #whathappenedtojackie blows up.
• People begin retweeting tweets from the Dallas Police feed: "Investigation underway. No information at this time."
• Someone starts a Storify.

12:45 p.m.: Dallas Police tweet a description of the suspect. Retweets immediately follow. The description is widely shared on Facebook.
• Parkland Hospital tweets: "The patient is being treated. We have no other additional information at this time." Speculation that the president has died appears on Twitter and other social media venues.
• Detailed discussions of bullet wounds to the head appear on a Reddit thread. Someone starts a Reddit ELIA5 discussion (Explain Like I'm 5): What happens if the president is in coma for a long time?

12:50 p.m.: Twitter tweets of a system failure because it is overloaded.

12:55 p.m.: A local radio station tweets the president is dead. The tweet is instantly and widely retweeted.
• Many news organizations hedge their bets: "REPORT: President Kennedy is dead."; "Unconfirmed reports say President Kennedy is dead."

1 p.m.: President Kennedy is declared dead.

1:05 p.m.: The White House press secretary and JFK's Twitter account issue an official statement that the president has died.
• Reddit launches a search for the killer, complete with photos of people at Dealey Plaza.

1:15 p.m.: Mainstream media outlets erroneously report the number of shooters and their identities. The mistakes are quickly knocked down by authorities.

1:22 p.m.: Jim Romenesko posts about the erroneous journalism on his media blog.
• A rifle is found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza.

1:45 p.m.: BuzzFeed publishes a list of 12 things you didn't know about the Texas School Book Depository.
• Twitter accounts of Dallas Morning News reporters and other local journalists spike.

2 p.m.: Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested at the Texas Theater for the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. Oswald is already a suspect in the president's death.

2:30 p.m.: Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as president.

2:40 p.m.: Politico posts an analysis of what the Johnson presidency will look like.

3 p.m.: Social media sites are packed with tributes to the slain president.
• BuzzFeed publishes a list of 12 things you didn't know about Lee Harvey Oswald.
• People save Oswald's Facebook page, anticipating that the social networking giant will soon shut it down. Other Lee Harvey Oswalds receive threatening messages on their Facebook pages.

3:45 p.m.: Kennedy haters post ugly messages about the dead president, triggering massive explosions of outrage. posts examples of the tasteless tweets.

11:26 p.m.: Lee Harvey Oswald is charged with the murder of President Kennedy.

11:31 p.m.: Jack Ruby checks in on foursquare at the Carousel Club.

^ This was interesting to see how the Kennedy assassination could have played on if they had the Internet and social media back then. Who knows maybe Oswald wouldn't have been killed and we could have learned the whole truth. Of course sometimes social media (and any media) is overdone. While I didn't use any social media (only basic e-mail, etc) on 9-11 the constant live coverage on the TV for several days was overwhelming. I think the same would have taken place if things like Twitter or Facebook were popular back in 2001 or 1963. One thing I am really glad is that the Internet wasn't that popular or widespread (and there was no social media to speak of) when I was in school otherwise I'm sure I would have posted a bunch of stupid pictures like today's kids do. Also if there was social media in the 1960s I wonder if we would have come to the brink of nuclear war in October 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis or would JFK and Khrushchev have twitted and e-mailed each other and fixed it sooner? You can go through all the major events in history along the same lines.^

NY Pet Registry

"New York Creates First-Ever Animal Abuser Registry"

In a first, the New York Senate has passed a bill that would require that convicted animal abusers - just like convicted sex offenders - register as such with the division of criminal justice services. Even more, those who have been convicted of abusing and torturing animals would also have to undergo a required psychiatric evaluation and would be banned from ever owning pets again.  Under the bill, the names and addresses of convicted animal abuses in New York would be made readily accessible to the public. Those involved in the sale and adoption of animals would be able to check the registry before allowing someone to own an animal. Animal cruelty has been a felony in New York since 1999 when Buster's Law was passed. Buster was a cat in Schenectady in upstate New York who was doused with kerosene and set on fire in 1997. The law bearing his name was created to ensure that those who commit such crimes are convicted. The new law (S2305A-2013) takes things a step further by creating the registry. It is more than well-established that the abuse of animals can be a "gateway behavior" to violence against humans. Senator Greg Ball of Patterson, who sponsored the bill, addressed this very point:

Persons who commit crimes against animals represent some of the worst kind of people, and often expand their carnage to their neighbors and the larger community. Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals - creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves and are easily abused and taken advantage of - is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers.
Just as Megan's Law was created to protect children from repeated sex offenders, Ball's bill will protect animals from repeat animal abusers - from (again, quoting Patterson) "violent and cruel behavior" that "cannot and should not be tolerated." Alice Calabrese, the CEO of Lollypop Farm and the Humane Society of Greater Rochester, says that there is a "high recidivism rate" among those who abuse animals, and that the registry is more than needed. Her organization receives about 1,200 calls about animal cruelty every year. Ball's bill is now being sent to the New York Assembly where it is being sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who was the driving force behind the sponsorship of Buster's Law. Noting that we have "expanded the DNA database to help catch criminals and exonerate the innocent," Tedisco underscores that we "now we have an opportunity to advance additional public safety measures including protecting our pets from abuse and ensuring animal abusers don't go on to hurt people." Michigan is also considering creating a registry of animal abusers, as have other states (including California). However, a bill to create such a registry in Maryland last year failed. Now that New York is on the verge of creating a registry of animal abusers, it really is up to the other 49 states to follow suit and do the right thing, as Michelle Gwynn writes.^ I hope this passes. People who abuse and hurt animals are just as bad as the ones who abuse and hurt humans. I hope other states pass this sooner rather than later. Anyone who has seen those animal cruelty commercials would support this bill in a second. ^