Friday, March 23, 2007

Easter 2007

We all know why we celebrate Easter Sunday each year. It's a festival in the Christian Church commemorating the Resurrection of Christ. It occurs on the first Sunday following the full moon after March 21. This year, Easter Sunday will be on April 8.

Easter Sunday fell on April Fool's Day <> April 1, 1945, and I remember it well. My age was 19 at the time and after island hopping fighting the Japanese for two years, my 1st Marine Division did not celebrate on this special day <> Easter Sunday. The First, Second, and Sixth Marine Divisions, joined the United States 10th Army, with support of US Navy ships, air power, US Marine air power, and Army Air Corps, invaded the island of Okinawa. It was the last battle of World War II.

Battle of Okinawa

Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific campaign and the last major campaign of the Pacific War. More ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than all those killed during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing, more than 107,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts killed, and perhaps 100,000 Okinawan civilians who perished in the battle.

The battle of Okinawa proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Thirty-four allied ships and craft of all types had been sunk, mostly by kamikazes, and 368 ships and craft damaged. The fleet had lost 763 aircraft. Total American casualties in the operation numbered over 12,000 killed [including nearly 5,000 Navy dead and almost 8,000 Marine and Army dead] and 36,000 wounded. Navy casualties were tremendous, with a ratio of one killed for one wounded as compared to a one to five ratio for the Marine Corps. Combat stress also caused large numbers of psychiatric casualties, a terrible hemorrhage of front-line strength. There were more than 26,000 non-battle casualties. In the battle of Okinawa, the rate of combat losses due to battle stress, expressed as a percentage of those caused by combat wounds, was 48% [in the Korean War the overall rate was about 20-25%, and in the Yom Kippur War it was about 30%]. American losses at Okinawa were so heavy as to illicite Congressional calls for an investigation into the conduct of the military commanders. Not surprisingly, the cost of this battle, in terms of lives, time, and material, weighed heavily in the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan just six weeks later.

Japanese human losses were enormous: 107,539 soldiers killed and 23,764 sealed in caves or buried by the Japanese themselves; 10,755 captured or surrendered. The Japanese lost 7,830 aircraft and 16 combat ships. Since many Okinawan residents fled to caves where they subsequently were entombed the precise number of civilian casualties will probably never be known, but the lowest estimate is 42,000 killed. Somewhere between one-tenth and one-fourth of the civilian population perished, though by some estimates the battle of Okinawa killed almost a third of the civilian population. According to US Army records during the planning phase of the operation, the assumption was that Okinawa was home to about 300,000 civilians. At the conclusion of hostilities around 196,000 civilians remained. However, US Army figures for the 82 day campaign showed a total figure of 142,058 civilian casualties, including those killed by artillery fire, air attacks and those who were pressed into service by the Japanese army.

By April, 1945 German resistance in the European Campaign was on the verge of collapse, but the Empire of Japan continued to defiantly resist American advances across the Pacific. Strategically located some 400 miles south of Japan, possession of Okinawa would enable the Allies to cut Japan's sea lines of communication and isolate it from its vital sources of raw materials in the south. If the invasion of Japan proved necessary, Okinawa's harbors, anchorages, and airfields could be used to stage the ships, troops, aircraft, and supplies necessary for the amphibious assault. The island had several Japanese air bases and the only two substantial harbors between Formosa and Kyushu.

The outbreak of hostilities in China during the 1930s initially had little impact on the inhabitants of the Ryukyu Islands, a chain running southwest from the Japanese home island of Kyushu toward Taiwan. Despite its size, of approximately 480 square miles and its population of perhaps 500,000, Okinawa had neither surplus food nor a great deal of industry to assist the Japanese effort. Its harbor facilities were unsuitable for large warships. The island's main contribution to the war effort lay in the production of sugarcane, which could be converted into commercial alcohol for torpedoes and engines.

From the first days of the Asia-Pacific war, Okinawa was fortified as the location of airbases and as the frontline in the defense of mainland Japan. Land and farms were forcibly expropriated throughout Okinawa and the Imperial Japanese Army began the construction of airbases.

By late October 1944, Okinawa, in the Ryukyu Island chain, had been targeted for invasion by Allied forces. This invasion -- code named Operation Iceberg --- would see the assembling of the greatest naval armada ever. Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's 5th fleet was to include more than 40 aircraft carriers, 18 battleships, 200 destroyers and hundreds of assorted support ships. Some 1,300 US ships surrounded the island. Of those, 365 were amphibious ships. Over 182,000 troops would make up the assault, planned for 01 April 1945, Easter Sunday. On 29 September 1944 B-29 bombers conducted the initial reconnaissance mission over Okinawa and its outlying islands. On 10 October 1944 nearly two hundred of Admiral Halsey's planes struck Naha, Okinawa's capital and principal city, in five separate waves. The city was almost totally devastated. The American war against Japan was coming inexorably closer to the Japanese homeland.

In mid-March 1945, the American fleet of over 1,300 ships gathered off Okinawa for the naval bombardment The first kamikaze attacks of the Okinawan campaign began on 18 March 1945. On 21 March, the first baka or piloted, suicide rocket bombs, were spotted below Japanese "Betty" bombers.

The invasion began on 01 April 1945 when 60,000 troops (two Marine and two Army divisions) landed with little opposition. The day began and ended with the heaviest concentration of naval gunfire ever expended to support an amphibious landing. Gathered off the invasion beaches were 10 older American battleships, including several Pearl Harbor survivors—the USS Tennessee, Maryland, and West Virginia—as well as 9 cruisers, 23 destroyers and destroyer escorts, and 117 rocket gunboats. Together they fired 3,800 tons of shells at Okinawa during the first 24 hours. Okinawans had long been resigned to the severe typhoons that sweep their land, but nothing in their experience prepared them for the tetsu no bow —- the "storm of steel" —- as one Okinawan characterized the assault on the island. At 0830 the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions of the XXIV Corps and the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions of the III Amphibious Corps crossed the Hagushi beaches, with 16,000 troops landing unopposed in the first hour. By nightfall more than 60,000 were ashore.

Although Okinawa was strongly defended by more than 100,000 troops, the Japanese chose not to defend the beaches. The uncontested landings of 01 April were part of the overall Japanese strategy to avoid casualties defending the beach against overwhelming Allied firepower. A system of defense in depth, especially in the southern portion of the island, would permit the 100,000-man-strong Japanese 32nd Army under General Ushijima to fight a protracted battle that would put both the attacking amphibious forces and naval armada at risk. The Japanese dug into caves and tunnels on the high ground away from the beaches in an attempt to negate the Allies' superior sea and air power.

The battle proceeded in four phases: first, the advance to the eastern coast (April 1-4); second, the clearing of the northern part of the island (April 5-18); third, the occupation of the outlying islands (April 10 - June 26); and fourth, the main battle against the dug in elements of the 32nd Army which began on 06 April and did not end until 21 June. Although the first three phases encountered only mild opposition, the final phase proved extremely difficult because the Japanese were well entrenched in and naval gunfire support was ineffective.

On April 6-7, the first use of massed formations of hundreds of kamikaze aircraft called kikusui, or "floating chrysanthemum", for the imperial symbol of Japan, began. By the end of the Okinawan campaign, 1,465 kamikaze flights were flown from Kyushu to sink 30 American ships and damage 164 others. The Japanese had devised a plan to load-up high-speed motorboats with high explosives and have them attack the American Fleet. The boats were hidden in caves up rivers and pulled inside along railroad tracks. The plan never was carried out, however.

The Japanese battleship, Yamato, the largest warship ever built accompanied by the light cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers, was dispatched to Okinawa on 06 April 1945, with no protective air cover. So badly depleted was the Japanese fleet by this time, Yamato was reported to carry only enough fuel for a one-way trip to Okinawa. Her mission: beach herself at Okinawa and fight until eliminated. The American submarine Hackleback tracked her movements and alerted carrier-based bombers. Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher launched air strikes on April 7 at 10 a.m. The first hits on Yamato were claimed by the carrier Bennington. San Jacinto planes sunk the destroyer Hamakaze, with a bomb and torpedo hit. The light cruiser Yahagi was hit by bombs and went dead in the water. For the next two hours, the Japanese force was under constant attack. Yamato took 12 bombs and seven torpedo hits within two hours, finally blowing up and sinking. Three accompanying destroyers were so badly damaged they had to be scuttled. Four remaining destroyers could not return to Japan. Of Yamato's crew of 2,747, all but 23 officers and 246 enlisted men were lost. Yahagi lost 446; Asashimo lost 330; the seven destroyers, 391 officers and men. There were few Japanese survivors. Losses to the Americans were 10 planes and 12 men. This was the last Japanese naval action of the war.

By 19 April soldiers and Marines of the US Tenth Army under LGEN Buckner USA were engaged in a fierce battle along a fortified front which represented the outer ring of the Shuri Line. This fighting contrasted dramatically with the unopposed landings and initial rapid advances of the previous weeks. The Shuri defenses were deeply dug into the limestone cliffs and boasted mutually supporting positions as well as a wealth of artillery of various calibers. As the battle dragged on, American casualties mounted. This delay in securing the island caused great consternation among the naval commanders since the fleet of almost 1,600 ships was exposed to heavy enemy air attacks. The most damage from the Japanese attacks came from operation Ten-Go (Heavenly Operation) which employed mass deployment of the fearsome kamikaze.

American losses mounted as soldiers and marines assaulted points on the Shuri line with the deceptive names of Sugar Loaf, Chocolate Drop, Conical Hill, Strawberry Hill, and Sugar Hill. During the course of the battle American forces were informed of two pieces of dramatic news, one tragic and the other joyous. The first was the death of president Franklin Roosevelt on 12 April and the latter the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May.

By the end of May monsoon rains which turned contested slopes and roads into a morass exacerbated both the tactical and medical situations. The ground advance began to resemble a World War I battlefield as troops became mired in mud and flooded roads greatly inhibited evacuation of wounded to the rear. Troops lived on a field sodden by rain, part garbage dump and part graveyard. Unburied Japanese bodies decayed, sank in the mud, and became part of a noxious stew. Anyone sliding down the greasy slopes could easily find their pockets full of maggots at the end of the journey.

Heavy pressure on the Shuri Line finally convinced GEN Ushijima to withdraw southward to his final defensive positions on the Kiyamu Peninsula. His troops began moving out on the night of 23 May but were careful to leave behind rear guard elements that continued to slow the American advance. Japanese soldiers too wounded to travel were given lethal injections of morphine or simply left behind to die. By the first week of June, US forces had captured only 465 enemy troops while claiming 62,548 killed. It would take 2 more weeks of hard fighting and an additional 2 weeks of "mopping up " operations pitting explosives and flamethrowers against determined pockets of resistance before the battle would finally be over. The so called "mopping up" fighting between 23 and 29 June netted an additional 9,000 enemy dead and 3,800 captured. Among the Japanese, the incidence of suicide soared during the final days. An examination of enemy dead revealed that, rather than surrender, many had held grenades against their stomachs, ending their personal war in that manner. General Ushijima committed ritual suicide (hara-kiri) on 16 June, convinced that he done his duty in service to the Emperor.

The document ending the Battle of Okinawa was signed on what is now Kadena Air Base on 07 September 1945. Long before the firing stopped on Okinawa, engineers and construction battalions, following close on the heels of the combat forces, were transforming the island into a major base for the projected invasion of the Japanese home islands.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rudy Giuliani

Republican Presidential Candidate for 2008: For those of us who believe George W. Bush selected the wrong people to help him destroy our nation, Rudy Giuliani, if elected, will do an even worse job. Bernard Kerik, was a Giuliani man. Read about Rudy's sidekick and good friend. This is only one example of Giuliani's judgement. Picture of Giuliani and Kerik. I close my case.

Bernard Kerik
Bernard Bailey Kerik, (born September 4, 1955 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American law-enforcement officer. Kerik was Police Commissioner of the City of New York from 2000 to 2001. In December 2004, George W. Bush nominated Kerik as Secretary of Homeland Security. A week later, Kerik withdrew his acceptance, explaining that he had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny; subsequently, numerous allegations surfaced which might have led to a difficult confirmation battle.

The son of Donald Raymond Kerik, Sr. and Patricia Joann Bailey, Kerik was raised in Paterson, New Jersey. In 2001, Kerik published a memoir, The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice, in which he described how he came from a broken home. In the book, he said his parents divorced when he was 3 and his mother, an alcoholic and prostitute, was murdered when he was 9.

Kerik dropped out of high school, later receiving a General Equivalency Diploma. While New York City Police Commissioner, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from Empire State College of the State University of New York.

Kerik is a former Military Police Officer (MP), a former bodyguard, a former jail warden and a former undercover narcotics detective, he is also a 5th Degree Black Belt Master Instructor in the Martial Arts, who holds Black Belts in both Japanese Karate and Korean tae kwon do.

Kerik declared bankruptcy in October 1987, but today he is a multimillionaire, the result of a lucrative partnership with former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and a profitable relationship with a stun-gun manufacturer. His relationship since 2002 with Taser International, a Scottsdale, Arizona, manufacturer of stun guns, has by far been the biggest source of his newfound wealth, earning him more than $6.2 million in pre-tax profits through stock options he was granted and then sold, mostly in November 2004.

Kerik has been married three times. His present wife since November 1998 is Syrian-born Hala Matli (born February 3, 1972). He has four children, his youngest, Celine Christina and Angelina Amber are both the godchildren of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City.

Military and police experience
Kerik enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1975 and became a Military police officer (MP) assigned to Korea and to the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1978, he received an honorable discharge from the Army and returned to New Jersey.

Kerik worked from 1982 to 1984 as chief of investigations for the security office at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one of the kingdom's premier hospitals, where members of the royal family are treated. Six members of the hospital security staff, including Kerik, were fired and deported after an investigation in 1984 by the Saudi secret police. (reported by the Washington Post)

Kerik served as Warden of the Passaic County jail, the largest county adult correctional facility in New Jersey, from January 1986 to July 1986. There, he also served as the Department's Training Officer and Commander of the Special Weapons and Operations units, and received the Medal of Honor from the City of Paterson and a Presidential Commendation from President Ronald Reagan, both for Heroism.

Kerik served with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from July 1986 to May 1994, in both uniformed and plain clothes duty. While assigned to the US Justice Department's New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, he was one of two case agents responsible for overseeing one of the most substantial narcotic investigations in the history of the department, resulting in the conviction of more than 60 members of the Cali Cartel. He earned thirty (30) medals for meritorious and heroic service, including the department's Medal for Valor for his involvement in a gun battle in which his partner was shot and wounded. In December 1997, he was appointed by the Mayor to the New York City Gambling Control Commission. Kerik also chaired the Michael Buczek Foundation's annual fund-raiser that honors law enforcement across the nation.

Commissioner of NYC Department of Correction
Kerik served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, a position to which he was appointed on January 1, 1998. He previously served for three years as the Department of Correction's First Deputy Commissioner and, prior to that, as the agency's Executive Assistant to the Commissioner and Director of the Investigations Division. He is credited with dramatically improving the safety of the city's jail system, reducing inmate-on-inmate violence by 93% over a 5 year period, and staff use of force by 76%. His tenure was also marked by greatly improved agency efficiency, including a 44% reduction in agency overtime expenditures and a 31% reduction in staff sick leave. In 2000, his Total Efficiency Accountability Management System (T.E.A.M.S.) was a finalist for the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award sponsored by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

New York City Police Commissioner
Kerik was appointed the 40th New York City Police Commissioner by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on August 21, 2000. He left office at the end of Giuliani's term on December 31, 2001. Kerik's selection came despite the fact that he lacked a college degree - a requirement established in 1985 by then-Commissioner Benjamin Ward for anyone promoted above the rank of Captain. There have been questions raised regarding the fact that the City of New York's Department of Investigations bypassed the normal vetting process in appointing Kerik police commissioner. The accusation among others were that his chief qualification appeared to be that he had served as Giuliani’s driver and bodyguard.

As the leader of the largest municipal police department in the United States, Commissioner Kerik oversaw a uniformed force of more than 41,000 officers, a civilian force of more than 14,500 which included the 3,500 member School Safety Division and 2,000-member Traffic Control Division, and an annual budget of more than $3.2 billion. Kerik was serving as Police Commissioner during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and oversaw the law-enforcement response.

After the attacks, Kerik took control of an apartment donated for the recovery efforts at Ground Zero, using it as a rent-free "love nest" to meet with his girl friends, including Judith Regan, the publisher of "The Lost Son".
Interim Minister of Interior of Iraq

In May 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kerik was appointed by the George W. Bush Administration as the Interim Minister of Interior of Iraq and Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Presidential Envoy to Iraq, L. Paul Bremer. He was responsible for reconstituting the Iraqi Ministry of Interior which had dissolved into the community during the U.S. led coalition's invasion of Iraq. The Iraq Interior consisted of the National Police, Intelligence Service and Border and Customs Police. In Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book on Iraq, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Kerik was said to be arrogant, incompetent, and undedicated in his position.

Consulting work
Following his departure from the New York City Police Department, he was employed by Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm formed by the former Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani. He served as a Senior Vice President at Giuliani Partners and as Chief Executive Officer of Giuliani-Kerik LLC, an affiliate of Giuliani Partners. Kerik resigned from these positions in December, 2004. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kerik served from May to September 2003 as Iraq’s interim Minister of Interior where he oversaw the re-constitution and reconstruction of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, including the national police service and border enforcement units. Kerik is currently the Chairman & CEO of The Kerik Group LLC, a New York City based consulting firm specializing in Homeland Security, Counter-Terrorism and Law Enforcement and Jail/Prison Management services.

Nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security
On December 3, 2004, Kerik was nominated by President Bush to succeed Tom Ridge as United States Secretary of Homeland Security. But on December 10, after a week of press scrutiny, Kerik withdrew acceptance of the nomination. Kerik stated that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper who had used someone else's social security number. Similar violations of immigration law had previously caused the withdrawal of the nominations of Linda Chavez as Secretary of Labor by George W. Bush and of Zoe Baird as Attorney General by Bill Clinton.

Shortly after withdrawal of the nomination, the press reported on several other incidents which might also have posed difficulties in gaining confirmation by the Senate. These include: questions regarding Kerik's sale of stock in Taser International shortly before the release of an Amnesty International report critical of the company's stun-gun product; a sexual harassment lawsuit; an affair with Judith Regan; allegations of misuse of police personnel and property for personal benefit; connections with a construction company suspected of having ties to organized crime; and failure to comply with ethics rules on gifts.

Investigation results
On June 30, 2006, after an eighteen month investigation conducted by the Bronx District Attorney's Office, Kerik pled guilty to two ethics violations (unclassified misdemeanors) and was ordered to pay $221,000 in fines at the 10-minute hearing.

Kerik acknowledged that he failed to document a personal loan on his annual New York City Conflict of Interest Report (a violation of the New York City Administrative Code) and accepting a gift from a New Jersey construction firm (or ones of their subsidiaries) attempting to do business with the city, (a violation of the New York City Charter). During the court hearing, the Assistant Bronx District Attorney stated that "although some may draw inferences from this plea, there is no direct evidence of an agreement between Kerik and the New Jersey construction firm". Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg immediately removed Kerik's name from the Manhattan Detention Complex, a New York jail that had been renamed in Kerik's honor on December 21, 2001 by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Subsequently, on July 20, 2006, the two New Jersey contractors were indicted on perjury charges, accused of lying to the Bronx grand jury in the Kerik investigation.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Grand Ole Opry

For those that were lucky enough to have a radio when I was growing up in the hills of Tennessee during the Great Depression, radio station WSM in Nashville was the music to our ears. Most of the best country hillbilly singers came to WSM in the hopes of making it big time. Some were successful. Some were rejected and sent back home with tears in their eyes. I have never enjoyed hillbilly country music. To me all the songs are the same as the sad stories are told of lost love. They make me cry tears into my beer that I'm drinking.

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly Saturday night country music radio program broadcast live on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee, and televised on Great American Country network. It is the oldest continuous radio program in the United States, having been broadcast on WSM since November 28, 1925.

The Grand Ole Opry started out as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth floor radio station studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville. The featured performer on the first show was Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a fiddler who was then 77 years old. The announcer was program director George D. Hay, known on the air as "The Solemn Old Judge." He was only 30 at the time and was not a judge, but was an enterprising pioneer who launched the Barn Dance as a spin-off of his National Barn Dance program at WLS Radio in Chicago. Some of the bands regularly featured on the show during its early days included the Possum Hunters, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Crook Brothers and the Gully Jumpers. They arrived in this order. However, Judge Hay liked the Fruit Jar Drinkers and asked them to appear last on each show because he wanted to always close each segment with "red hot fiddle playing." They were the second band accepted on the "Barn Dance." And, when the Opry began having square dancers on the show, the Fruit Jar Drinkers always played for them.

In 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, a Tennessee banjo player who had recorded several songs and toured the vaudeville circuit, became its first real star. The name Grand Ole Opry came about in December, 1927. The Barn Dance followed NBC Radio Network's Music Appreciation Hour, which consisted of classical music and selections from grand opera. Their final piece that night featured a musical interpretation of an onrushing railroad locomotive. In response to this Judge Hay quipped, "Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the 'earthy'." He then introduced the man he dubbed the Harmonica Wizard ??” DeFord Bailey who played his classic train song "The Pan American Blues". After Bailey's performance Hay commented, "For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the 'Grand Ole Opry.'" The name stuck and has been used for the program since then.

The home of the Opry. As audiences to the live show increased, National Life & Accident Insurance's radio venue became too small to accommodate the hordes of fans. They built a larger studio, but it was still not large enough. The Opry then moved into then-suburban Hillsboro Theatre (now the Belcourt), then to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville and then to the War Memorial Auditorium, a downtown venue adjacent to the State Capitol. A twenty-five cent admission began to be charged, in part an effort to curb the large crowds, but to no avail. In 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium.

On October 2, 1954, a teenage Elvis Presley made his first (and only) performance there. Although the public reacted politely to his revolutionary brand of rockabilly music, after the show he was told by one of the organizers (Opry manager Jim Denny) that he ought to return to Memphis to resume his truck-driving career, prompting him to swear never to return. Years later, Garth Brooks commented in a television interview that one of the greatest thrills of playing the Opry was that he got to play on the same stage Elvis had.

The Ryman was home to the Opry until 1974, when the show moved to the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House, located several miles to the east of downtown Nashville on a former farm in the Pennington Bend of the Cumberland River. An adjacent theme park, called Opryland USA, preceded the new Opry House by two years. Due to sagging attendance, the park was shuttered and demolished after the 1997 season by the Opry's current owner, Gaylord Entertainment Company. The theme park was replaced by the Opry Mills Mall. An adjacent hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, is the largest non-gambling hotel in North America and is the site of dozens of conventions annually.

Another controversy brewed in 2001 because of MTV. In 1997, CBS signed a five-year contract with the Opry to be the television broadcast home of the event, to air on The Nashville Network, as part of its acquisition of TNN and CMT from Gaylord Entertainment (which owns the Opry). The contract specifically carried a five-year requirement that TNN would be the broadcast home from October 1, 1997 until September 30, 2002.

Grand Ole Opry, December '06 Gaylord was very unhappy with MTV Networks after TNN was shut down and replaced with an adult-oriented (now known as Spike TV) channel in 2000, and MTV moved the Opry to CMT in 2001, technically breaking its contract. Gaylord eventually moved the Opry to a rival, GAC, in 2003.

Still, the Opry continues, with hundreds of thousands of fans traveling from around the world to Nashville to see the music and comedy on the Opry in person.

Impact and economics
In many ways, the artists and repertoire of the Opry defined American country music. Hundreds of performers have entertained as cast members through the years, including new stars, superstars and legends. Being made a member of the Grand Ole Opry, country music's longest, most endurable "Hall of Fame" is to be identified as a member of the most elite of country music. Many linked the stripping of Hank Williams' Opry membership in 1952 to his death soon afterward.

June Carter Cash playing at the Grand Ole Opry. July, 1999.The quality of the program has waxed and waned over the years. In the mid-1960s management decided to enforce strictly the requirement that members had to perform on at least twenty-six shows a year in order to keep their membership active. This imposed a tremendous financial hardship on members who made much of their income from touring and could not afford to be in or near Nashville every other weekend. This was aggravated by the fact that the Opry's appearance fee paid to the artist was essentially a token ($44 at the time).

The Opry management was so certain in its belief that only someone who could truthfully bill themselves as a "Member of the Grand Ole Opry could be considered to be a major country music star that it felt this rule could be enforced; however, by this point many country music artists were so established that this was really no longer true. The quality of the Opry suffered in the years following, and by the late 1970s and early 1980s the Opry was regarded by many country music fans as sort of a musical equivalent of a sports "old-timers' game," where only former stars were to be seen. Over time, this problem was largely corrected by a reduced attendance requirement and special exceptions.

Another controversy that raged for years was over allowable instrumentation, especially the use of drums and electrically amplified instruments. Some purists were appalled at the prospect; traditionally a string bass provided the rhythm component in country music and percussion instruments were generally little used. Electric amplification was regarded as the province of rock and roll, anathema to many country fans, especially older ones. These restrictions chafed many artists, such as Waylon Jennings, who were popular with the newer and younger fans. These restrictions were largely eliminated over time, alienating many older and traditionalist fans, but probably saving the Opry long-term as a viable ongoing enterprise.

Management has been very conscious of the need to enforce its trademark on the term Grand Ole Opry and limit use to members of the Opry and products associated with or licensed by it. However, it lost a legal case against the owners of a small, now-defunct Nashville record label calling itself Opry Records. The record company's attorneys successfully argued that WSM's management indeed owned the rights to the words Grand Ole Opry, but only in that order and combination, and no more owned the word Opry in isolation than they owned Grand or Ole.

This has made the management wary about the issue of licensing and trademarks. It has also allowed a plethora of small-time country music shows to label themselves as Oprys of one sort or another, such as the Bell Witch Opry; Carolina Opry; Ozark Opry, etc. (Much the same thing happened when the Coca-Cola company failed to trademark the term "cola.")

In September 2004, it was announced that the Grand Ole Opry had contracted for the first time with a "presenting sponsor" and would henceforth be known as "the Grand Ole Opry presented by Cracker Barrel." Cracker Barrel, a long-time Opry sponsor headquartered in nearby Lebanon, Tennessee, is a chain of country-themed restaurants and gift shops whose market overlaps with that of the Opry to a great extent.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Alberto Gonzales

Read about the life of the Mexican/American Top Cop in the United States. His job is to enforce the law - all laws that were legally passed under the guideline of the U.S. Constitution. It appears that he has violated all the laws that George W. Bush disagreed with. But the last allegation he approved, may be his last as the Attorney General of Bush's Law. If I had my way I would send Bush, Cheney and Gonzales back to Texas after they served 10 years in prison for distroying our country.

Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955) is the 80th and current Attorney General of the United States. He formerly served under U.S. President George W. Bush as White House Counsel, and prior to that had been appointed by Bush to the Texas Supreme Court. He is currently under fire for the recent FBI infractions in improperly, and at times illegally, using the USA Patriot Act to secretly pry out personal information about Americans in terrorism investigations and the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, which have allegedly been politically motivated.
Personal background
Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Humble, near Houston. He was the second of eight children born to Pablos and Maria Gonzales. His father, who died in 1982, was a construction worker. Both his parents were children of immigrants from Mexico with less than a high-school education themselves; in the midst of a national debate in the US about immigration from Mexico, Gonzales told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that no immigration documentation exists for three of his grandparents and they may have entered and resided in the United States illegally.

An honors student at MacArthur High School in Houston, Gonzales enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1973, for a four year hitch, serving for two years at Fort Yukon, Alaska before being accepted to the United States Air Force Academy in 1975. In 1977, he transferred to Rice University, where he was a member of Lovett College and earned a degree in political science in 1979; he never completed the remaining 2 years of his USAF obligation; he then earned a Juris Doctor (J.D) degree from Harvard Law School in 1982. He was the only one of his siblings to finish college. He has been married twice: he and his first wife, Diane Clemens, divorced in 1985; he and his second wife, Rebecca Turner Gonzales, have three sons.

Despite keeping a low profile about his religious affiliation, Gonzales has described himself as a Catholic.

Texas career
Gonzales was an attorney in private practice from 1982 until 1994 with the Houston law firm Vinson and Elkins, where he became a partner. In 1994, he was named general counsel to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, rising to become Texas Secretary of State in 1997 and finally to be named to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999, both appointments made by Governor Bush.

Outside of his political and legal career, Gonzales was active in the community. He was a board director of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast from 1993 to 1994, and President of Leadership Houston during this same period. In 1994, Gonzales served as Chair of the Commission for District Decentralization of the Houston Independent School District, and as a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions for Rice University. He was chosen as one of Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees in 1994. He was a member of delegations sent by the American Council of Young Political Leaders to Mexico in 1996 and to the People's Republic of China in 1995. He received the Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas in 1997 for his dedication to addressing basic legal needs of the indigent. In 1999, he was named Latino Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association.

As counsel to Governor Bush, Gonzales helped Bush be excused from jury duty when he was called in a 1996 Travis County drunk driving case. The case led to controversy during Bush's 2000 presidential campaign because Bush's answers to the potential juror questionnaire did not disclose Bush's own 1976 misdemeanor drunk driving conviction. Gonzales' formal request for Bush to be excused from jury duty hinged upon the fact that, as Governor of Texas, he might be called upon to pardon the accused in the case. Upon learning of the 1976 conviction, the prosecutor in the 1996 case (a Democrat) felt he had been "directly deceived". The defense attorney in the case called Gonzales' arguments "laughable".

As Governor Bush's counsel in Texas, Gonzales also reviewed all clemency requests. A 2003 article in The Atlantic Monthly asserts that Gonzales gave insufficient counsel, failed to take into consideration a wide array of factors, and actively worked against clemency in a number of borderline cases. (The state of Texas executed more prisoners during Gonzales' term, and still has more prisoners on death row, than any other state.)

War on Terror
The Executive Order 13233, drafted by Gonzales and issued by George W. Bush on November 1, 2001 shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, attempted to place limitations on the Freedom of Information Act by restricting access to the records of former presidents.

Gonzales authored a controversial memo in January of 2002 that explored whether Article III of the Geneva Convention even applied to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and held in detention facilities around the world, including Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The memo made several arguments both for and against providing Article III protection to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He concluded that Article III was outdated and ill-suited for dealing with captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He described as "quaint" the provisions that require providing captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters "commissary privileges, scrip, athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments". He also argued that existing military regulations and instructions from the President were more than adequate to ensure that the principles of the Geneva Convention would be applied. He also argued that undefined language in the Geneva Convention, such as "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment", could make officials and military leaders subject to the War Crimes Act of 1996 if mistreatment was discovered.

In 2004, when this memo was leaked to the press, Gonzales said about the memo in Senate confirmation hearings that "... I don't recall today whether or not I was in agreement with all of the analysis, but I don't have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the department." This indicates that, despite the Bush administration's withdrawal from the memo, Gonzales still believes that the Justice Department was correct in its reasoning about torture.

Gonzales also authored the Presidential Order which authorized the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects. He fought with Congress to keep Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy task force documents from being reviewed. Gonzales was also an early advocate of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act. He is also accused of being involved in the decision to allow foreign combatants in U.S. custody to be deported to nations that allow torture, in order to extract further information from them; he denies that he has ever supported this measure.
On June 23, 2006 Gonzales, along with Deputy Director of the FBI John S. Pistole gave a high level press briefing involving the Miami bomb plot to attack the Sears Tower.

On November 14, 2006, invoking universal jurisdiction, legal proceedings were started in Germany for his alleged involvement under the command responsibility of prisoner abuse by writing the controversial legal opinions.

Attorney General nomination and confirmation
Gonzales' name was sometimes floated as a possible nominee to the United States Supreme Court during Bush's first presidential term. On November 10, 2004, it was announced that he would be nominated to replace United States Attorney General John Ashcroft for Bush's second term. Gonzales was once regarded as moderate compared to Ashcroft since, unlike many in the Bush administration, he did not oppose abortion or affirmative action.

These controversies were the grounds for a strong degree of opposition to Gonzales that started during his Senate confirmation proceedings at the beginning of President Bush's second term. The New York Times quoted anonymous Republican officials as saying that Gonzales's appointment to Attorney General was a way to "bolster Mr. Gonzales's credentials" en route to a later Supreme Court appointment.

The appointment to Attorney General, in a maneuver designed by Karl Rove, would "get out of the way" the above controversies and allow Gonzales to demonstrate his positions on issues such as affirmative action and abortion. Others believe that Bush chose him as Attorney General because the pro-life base of the party would never allow a pro-choice Republican to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Gonzales was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 60-36 on February 3, 2005. He was sworn in on February 14, 2005, becoming the highest-placed Hispanic ever in the U.S. Government.
Possible Supreme Court nomination

O'Connor vacancy
Shortly before the July 1, 2005 retirement of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sandra Day O'Connor, rumors started circulating that a memo had leaked from the White House stating that upon the retirement of either O'Connor or Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist, that Gonzales would be the first Bush nominee for a vacancy on the Court.

Quickly, conservative stalwarts such as National Review magazine and Focus on the Family, among other socially conservative groups, stated they would oppose a Gonzales nomination.

Much of their opposition to Gonzales was based on his perceived support of abortion rights; typically, they cited his place in the majority opinions of various Texas Supreme Court rulings in a series of In re Jane Doe cases from 2000 that ordered lower courts to reconsider minor women's requests for a "judicial bypass" provided in a provision of Texas' parental notification law, and in one case (43 Tex. Sup. J. 910), granted the bypass that allowed the girl to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents. Gonzales wrote concurring opinions in two of these cases: In re Jane Doe 3 (43 Tex. Sup. J. 508) and In re Jane Doe 5 (43 Tex. Sup. J. 910). For In re Jane Doe 3 he concurred, on the legal grounds that the lower court had issued its ruling only one business day after the Texas Supreme Court had issued guidance on what the applicant for a judicial bypass must prove, with the differently reasoned majority opinion to remand the case to the lower courts.

For In re Jane Doe 5 his concurring opinion began with the sentence, "I fully join in the Court's judgment and opinion." He went on, though, to address the three dissenting opinions, primarily one by Nathan L. Hecht alleging that the court majority's members had disregarded legislative intent in favor of their personal ideologies. Gonzales's opinion dealt mostly with how to establish legislative intent. He wrote, "We take the words of the statute as the surest guide to legislative intent. Once we discern the Legislature's intent we must put it into effect, even if we ourselves might have made different policy choices." He added, "[T]o construe the Parental Notification Act so narrowly as to eliminate bypasses, or to create hurdles that simply are not to be found in the words of the statute, would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism" and "While the ramifications of such a law and the results of the Court's decision here may be personally troubling to me as a parent, it is my obligation as a judge to impartially apply the laws of this state without imposing my moral view on the decisions of the Legislature."

Political commentators had suggested that Bush forecast the selection of Gonzales with his comments defending the Attorney General made on July 6, 2005 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bush stated, "I don't like it when a friend gets criticized. I'm loyal to my friends. All of a sudden this fellow, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire. And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it, at all." However, this speculation proved to be incorrect, as Bush nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Rehnquist vacancy
After the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist on September 3, 2005, creating another vacancy, speculation resumed that President Bush might nominate Gonzales to the Court. This again proved to be incorrect, as Bush decided to nominate Roberts to the Chief Justice position, and on October 3, 2005, nominated Harriet Miers as Associate Justice, to replace Justice O'Connor. On October 27, 2005, Miers withdrew her nomination, again renewing speculation about a possible Gonzales nomination. This was laid to rest when Judge Samuel Alito received the nomination and subsequent confirmation.
U.S. Attorneys 2006 Dismissial controversy

On December 7 2006, eight United States Attorneys were notified by the United States Department of Justice that they were being dismissed, after the George W. Bush administration made the determination to seek their resignations. Critics claimed the dismissals were either motivated by desire to install attorneys more loyal to the Republican party or as retribution for actions or inactions damaging to the Republican party. At least six of the eight had positive internal Justice Department performance reports. There were various hearings and testimony offered in January though March. The firestorm increased upon the release of emails by Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson, which showed extensive communication between Sampson and White House Administration official Harriet Miers. Sampson resigned, but the emails also showed that a number of statements from the Dept of Justice, including statements made by Gonzales himself, were inaccurate. But Gonzales also admitted that Justice Department officials had misled Congress. According to the Attorney General, "incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to Congress."
Several senators have publicly said Gonzales should resign, among them John Sununu (R-NH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

2007 New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade

You have missed the best day of your life if you have never been in New York City on Saint Patrick's Day. You not only missed the best parade in your life, you missed a lot a happy people celebrating. On this day each year, all people claim to be Irish, no matter what your nationality. Other cities will parade and celebrate on Saint Patrick's Day, but none can compete with the Big Apple.

Congratulations to the 2007 New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal Raymond L. Flynn.

Saturday, March 17th 2007

Starting @ 44th Street and Fifth Avenue @11:00 a.m.

The Solemn Pontifical Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral <> 50th Street and Fifth Avenue @ 8:30 a.m.

Last years parade was dedicated to the fighting 69th- Taskforce Wolfhound who served in Iraq and the 19 who were killed in action.

Tribute to the "Fighting 69th Infantry", New York Army National Guard, The 69th Regiment of New York.

The Central Park transverse roads will stay open to traffic. Pedestrian crossing along the parade route will be allowed on 49th Street to 55th Street, 57th Street and 58th Street, 59th Street eastbound only and 60th Street westbound only.

Now Marching for the 246th Consecutive Year Up Fifth Avenue in New York City - Marched for the first time on March 17, 1762 - Sixteen Years before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

This year Raymond L. Flynn will be the 2007 New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal.

The Parade will be reviewed from the steps of Saint Patrick's Cathedral by His Eminence Cardinal Edward Eagan, Archbishop of New York. It will also be reviewed from the Official Reviewing Stand at 64th Street and 5th Avenue.

The parade marches up 5th Avenue, clan by clan, from 44th to 86th streets starting at 11am on St. Patrick's Day (Saturday, March 17th).

Former Grand Marshal include: 2005 Grand Marshal Denis P. Kelleher, 2004 Grand Marshal Thomas W. Gleason and 2003 James G. O'Connor was the Grand Marshal the year before, and Mayor Bloomberg marched along with nearly 150,000 others proudly wearing the green, as millions gawk along the parade route and watch on TV.

Four year ago marked the 241st New York St. Patrick's Day Parade, the world's largest. Edward Cardinal Egan was the Grand Marshall, and Mayor Bloomberg will marched along with nearly 150,000 others proudly wearing the green, as millions gawk along the parade route and watch on TV.

Several years ago parade was dedicated to the 'Heroes of 9/11, ' including police, fire and all rescue workers. At around midday, the parade will pause for one minute as Cardinal Egan leads participants in a prayer from the reviewing stand at 64th Street and 5th Avenue. It's a reminder that St. Paddy's Day is a religious holiday back in the motherland, even though for New Yorkers it's a chance to party hardy like any good Irishman. There probably isn't a bigger day when green face paint, green food coloring, green nail polish, and green clothes are on display. And there's pure Irish pageantry, of course, led by the 165th Infantry (originally the 69th Regiment of the 1850's). You'll see the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 30 Irish county societies and various Emerald, Irish-language and Irish nationalist societies.

The parade marches up 5th Avenue, clan by clan, from 44th to 86th streets starting at 11am on St. Patrick's Day (Saturday, March 17th). It will probably be televised on NBC.

The first official parade in the City was held in 1766 by Irishmen in a military unit recruited to serve in the American colonies. For the first few years of its existence, the parade was organized by military units until after the war of 1811. At that point in time, Irish fraternal and beneficial societies took over the duties of hosting and sponsoring the event.

Originally, Irish societies joined together at their respective meeting places and moved in a procession toward St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, St. James Church, or one of the many other Roman Catholic churches in the City. However, as the years passed, the size of the parade increased and around the year 1851, as individual societies merged under a single grand marshal, the size of the parade grew sharply.

Each year a unit of soldiers marches at the head of the parade; the Irish 165th Infantry (originally the 69th Regiment of the 1850's) has become the parade's primary escort, and they are followed by the various Irish societies of the city. Some of the other major sponsors and participants in the parade are the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the thirty Irish county societies, and various Emerald, Irish-language, and Irish nationalist societies.

The annual parade down Fifth Avenue to honor the patron saint of Ireland is a New York tradition that dates as far back as 1766. The festivities kick off at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue at 11:00 am on Saturday, March 17th, with bagpipers, high school bands, and the ever-present politicians making their way up Fifth Avenue to 86th Street, where the parade will probably finish around 4:30 or 5:00 pm.

The best viewing spots are toward the north end of the parade route, away from the shopping and work-a-day crowds that throng the sidewalks below 59th Street. Try sitting on the upper steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a great view or catching a close-up view of the marchers where the parade turns east on 86th Street.

The New York Convention & Visitors Bureau says that the St. Patrick's Day Parade is the largest and most famous of the many parades held in the city each year.

Colonial New York City hosted the first official St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762, when Irish immigrants in the British colonial army marched down city streets. In subsequent years Irish fraternal organizations also held processions to St. Patrick's Cathedral. The various groups merged sometime around 1850 to form a single, grand parade.

The parade marches up 5th Avenue, from 44th to 86th streets starting at 11am on St. Patrick's Day (Saturday, March 17th). It will probably be televised on NBC.

History of Saint Patrick

We celebrate Saint Patrick's Day each year on March 17th. The festive holiday has everyone wearing green (so they don't get pinched) and chatting of four leaf clovers, shamrocks, lucky leprechauns, and kissing some big rock called a blarney stone. Does it all sound a bit strange? It did to me too but after a bit of research it all made sense. Here's what I found out.

Did you know that Saint Patrick's name at birth was Maewyn Succat? He was born somewhere near the end of the fourth century and took on the name Patrick or Patricus, after he became a priest, much later in his life. At the age of sixteen Maewyn Succat was kidnapped from his native land of Britain, by a band pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. Maewyn worked as a shepherd and turned to religion for solace. After six long years of slavery he escaped to the northern coast of Gaul.

In Gaul, Maewyn became Patrick (a more christian name) and studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for twelve years. He came to believe that it was his calling to convert the pagans of Ireland to Christianity. St. Palladius was appointed to go to Ireland first but transferred to Scotland two years later opening up the door for Patrick. Patrick was about sixty years old when he arrived in Ireland and it is said that he had a winning personality that helped him win converts. He used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, to help explain the concept of the Trinity (father, son, holy spirit).

Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries and setting up schools and churches to aid in converting the Irish country to Christianity. Legend has it that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Evidently, they all went into the sea and drowned. The snake is a pagan symbol and perhaps this is a figurative tale explaining that he drove paganism out of Ireland.

Patrick's mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. He then retired to County Down and died on March 17 in 461 AD. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. The first year St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in this country was 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. As the saying goes, on this day "everybody is Irish!" Over 100 U.S. cities now hold Saint Patrick's Day parades.


St. Patrick used the shamrock leaf to symbolize the Trinity, and today many people wear a shamrock to commemorate Saint Patrick's Day.

Blarney Stone

So what's all this talk of kissing the Blarney Stone?

Blarney Castle is located in County Cork, Ireland. Built in 1446 by Cormac Laidhim McCarthy (Lord of Muskerry) the Blarney stone is located in the southern tower wall between the main castle wall and the parapet. In order to kiss the stone one has to lie on their back and bend backward (and downward), holding iron bars for support. It is said that the Blarney stone has magical properties. As legend has it an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly.


Just what does a Leprechaun look like and why are they so special? A Leprechaun (Irish fairy) looks like a little old man. He's about 2 feet tall and dresses like a shoemaker with a cocked hat and leather apron. A Leprechaun's personality is described as aloof and unfriendly. They live alone and pass the time by making shoes. They're special because they also possess a hidden pot of gold.

If you listen closely for the sound of their hammer you might be able to capture one. If you do you can force him (with the threat of bodily violence) to reveal where he's hidden his treasure. Be careful! Do not take your eyes off him for if you do he will surely vanish and your hopes of finding his treasure will vanish with him.


So why do we all wear green?

Probably because you'll be pinched if you don't! School children started this tradition. Green is also the color of spring, the shamrock and is connected with hope and nature.

The luck of the Irish

Want to be lucky this St. Patrick's Day? Follow this advice:

1. Find a four-leaf clover. 2. Wear green (so you don't get pinched). 3. Kiss the blarney stone. 4. Catch a Leprechaun if you can.

In honor of the festivities we leave you with this Irish blessing: May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go!

Irish Drinking Toast

"May the grass grow long on the road to hell for want of use.
May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent."

Monday, March 5, 2007

Geronimo at Fort Pickens

Noah's note: Fort Pickens is located on the West end of Santa Rosa Island in Northwest Florida. It's at the entrance when the Gulf of Mexico water comes into Pensacola Bay. It's six miles West of Pensacola Beach, and it's across the Bay from Pensacola Naval Base.
<> <> <> <> <>
Geronimo {jur-ahn'-i-moh}, or Goyathlay ("one who yawns"), was born in 1829 in what is today western New Mexico, but was then still Mexican territory. He was a Bedonkohe Apache (grandson of Mahko) by birth and a Net'na during his youth and early manhood. His wife, Juh, Geronimo's cousin Ishton, and Asa Daklugie were members of the Nednhi band of the Chiricahua Apache.

He was reportedly given the name Geronimo by Mexican soldiers, although few agree as to why. As leader of the Apaches at Arispe in Sonora, he performed such daring feats that the Mexicans singled him out with the sobriquet Geronimo (Spanish for "Jerome"). Some attributed his numerous raiding successes to powers conferred by supernatural beings, including a reputed invulnerability to bullets.

Geronimo's war career was linked with that of his brother-in-law, Juh, a Chiricahua chief. Although he was not a hereditary leader, Geronimo appeared so to outsiders because he often acted as spokesman for Juh, who had a speech impediment.

Geronimo was the leader of the last American Indian fighting force formally to capitulate to the United States. Because he fought against such daunting odds and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all. To the pioneers and settlers of Arizona and New Mexico, he was a bloody-handed murderer and this image endured until the second half of this century.

To the Apaches, Geronimo embodied the very essence of the Apache values, agressiveness, courage in the face of difficulty. These qualities inspired fear in the settlers of Arizona and New Mexico. The Chiricahuas were mostly migratory following the seasons, hunting and farming. When food was scarce, it was the custom to raid neighboring tribes. Raids and vengeance were an honorable way of life among the tribes of this region.

By the time American settlers began arriving in the area, the Spanish had become entrenched in the area. They were always looking for Indian slaves and Christian converts. One of the most pivotal moments in Geronimo's life was in 1858 when he returned home from a trading excursion into Mexico. He found his wife, his mother and his three young children murdered by Spanish troops from Mexico. This reportedly caused him to have such a hatred of the whites that he vowed to kill as many as he could. From that day on he took every opportunity he could to terrorize Mexican settlements and soon after this incident he received his power, which came to him in visions. Geronimo was never a chief, but a medicine man, a seer and a spiritual and intellectual leader both in and out of battle. The Apache chiefs depended on his wisdom.

When the Chiricahua were forcibly removed (1876) to arid land at San Carlos, in eastern Arizona, Geronimo fled with a band of followers into Mexico. He was soon arrested and returned to the new reservation. For the remainder of the 1870s, he and Juh led a quiet life on the reservation, but with the slaying of an Apache prophet in 1881, they returned to full-time activities from a secret camp in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

In 1875 all Apaches west of the Rio Grande were ordered to the San Carlos Reservation. Geronimo escaped from the reservation three times and although he surrendered, he always managed to avoid capture. In 1876, the U.S. Army tried to move the Chiricahuas onto a reservation, but Geronimo fled to Mexico eluding the troops for over a decade. Sensationalized press reports exaggerated Geronimo's activities, making him the most feared and infamous Apache. The last few months of the campaign required over 5,000 soldiers, one-quarter of the entire Army, and 500 scouts, and perhaps up to 3,000 Mexican soldiers to track down Geronimo and his band.

The Apache Indians have always been characterized as fierce warriors with an indomitable will. It is not surprising that the last armed resistance by Native Americans came from this proud tribe of American Indians. As the Civil War ended the U. S. Government brought its military to bear against the natives out west. They continued a policy of containment and restriction to reservations. In 1875, the restrictive reservation policy had limited the Apaches to 7200 square miles. By the 1880's the Apache had been limited to 2600 square miles. This policy of restriction angered many Native Americans and led to confrontation between the military and bands of Apache. The famous Chiricahua Apache Geronimo led one such band. Born in 1829, Geronimo lived in western New Mexico when this region was still a part of Mexico.

All of Geronimo's band was to be sent to Fort Marion in St. Augustine. However, a few business leaders in Pensacola, Florida petitioned the government to have Geronimo himself sent to Fort Pickens, which is part of the 'Gulf Islands National Seashore'. They claimed that Geronimo and his men would be better guarded at Fort Pickens than at the overcrowded Fort Marion. However, an editorial in a local newspaper congratulated a congressman for bringing such a great tourist attraction to the city.

On October 25, 1886, 15 Apache warriors arrived at Fort Pickens. Geronimo and his warriors spent many days working hard labor at the fort in direct violation of the agreements made at Skeleton Canyon. Eventually the families of Geronimo's band were returned to them at Fort Pickens, and then they all moved on to other places of incarceration. The city of Pensacola was sad to see Geronimo the tourist attraction leave. In one day he had over 459 visitors with an average of 20 a day during the duration of his captivity at Fort Pickens.

Unfortunately, the proud Geronimo had been reduced to a sideshow spectacle. He lived the rest of his days as a prisoner. He visited the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and according to his own accounts made a great deal of money signing autographs and pictures. Geronimo also rode in the inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt. He eventually died in 1909 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The captivity of the Chiricahuas ended in 1913

Quotes from Geronimo

"I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me. Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.

The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians. We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.

I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.

When a child, my mother taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and protection. Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us... and to Usen.

I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures."

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Tamper-Proof Drivers License

Federal Requirement for Tamper-Proof Licenses Will Raise Fees for Drivers by 2013

Published: March 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 1 — Nearly 240 million Americans and legal residents will have to spend an estimated $20 more for a standardized and tamper-proof driver’s license by 2013 to comply with a proposed new federal rule issued Thursday.

Congress imposed the mandate for the new licenses in 2005, agreeing with the 9/11 Commission that terrorists’ access to fake licenses or state-issued identification cards made the 2001 plot easier to carry out.

But until now, the Department of Homeland Security had not issued rules governing the licenses’ security features or the documentation that will be required to get one. It also had not estimated the costs — about $14.6 billion to states and about $7.8 billion to individuals — of setting up the system called Real ID over the next decade.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, trying to address concerns raised by the states, said the department would allow those having trouble meeting the original May 2008 deadline to delay the start of the program until the end of 2009. But all states will still be required to replace all existing drivers’ licenses by 2013 — even those not up for renewal — if they want their licenses to be accepted as identification at airports or federal buildings.

“This is going to cost money — security does cost money,” Mr. Chertoff said Thursday. “But it is money well spent.”

To help the states get started, Mr. Chertoff offered up to $100 million in federal grants this year, although the money would come from antiterrorism funds already promised to the states. So far, only $40 million in federal aid has been provided for the program.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who had advocated delaying the start of the program, praised the revisions.

“The department has finally recognized that it simply was unfair to impose this burden on the states,” Ms. Collins said Thursday on the Senate floor.

But the plan received largely negative reviews from state officials and civil liberties experts. “We have always known this law would be a nightmare for motorists and taxpayers, and President Bush’s rules have just confirmed that nightmare,” Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin said in a statement Thursday, predicting “higher fees, longer lines, fewer D.M.V. centers, and a major headache when you go to renew your license.”

The National Governors Association said the federal aid Mr. Chertoff offered, representing about 10 percent of the cost in the first year and an unknown amount in future years, was woefully inadequate.

“It is a drop in a bucket,” said David Quam, the association’s director of federal relations, who estimated that the extra cost per person could reach $40. The cost of licenses now ranges from as much $85 in New York to as little as $4 in North Carolina, according to the AAA.

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union said the new identification cards would leave the nation less secure. That is because Homeland Security said in the proposed rule issued Thursday that it did not intend to require the encryption of biographic data contained in a machine-readable strip on the license.

“You will create greater security vulnerabilities for sophisticated terrorists than the ones we are closing,” said Timothy Sparapani, legislative counsel at the A.C.L.U.

Applicants will have to prove their address, date of birth and legal status in the United States with valid government-issued documents. Exceptions will be granted to people born before 1935 and in certain other cases, like people who were victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Before states can issue a new license, they will need to electronically confirm that the applicant’s documentation is accurate. That will require states or the federal government to create electronic databases of birth certificates, immigration records and other documents — a task that could be difficult to complete in time, some state officials said Thursday.

Mr. Chertoff said the proposed rule, which is on track to become final in several months, would give states the option to make it illegal for merchants to automatically collect biographic data from the licenses.

States will also be permitted to issue a different type of license for people who cannot confirm they are in the United States legally. But these would not be valid as a form of federal identification.

Several states including Maine and Montana, angry over the high cost of the program and concerns about privacy, are considering or have voted on legislation calling for the repeal of the law. Jim Guest, a Missouri state legislator helping coordinate the repeal effort in more than 30 states, said the revolt would continue.

“All of our concerns are still there,” Mr. Guest said.

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Stars and Stripes Forever
by John Philip Sousa

At the end of the 19th century the name of the American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was virtually synonymous with the music of marches.

John Philip Sousa was born on Nov. 6, 1854, in Washington, D.C. His father was Portuguese, his mother German. At the age of 10 Sousa began violin lessons and later studied music theory and composition. By the time he was 13 he could play a number of band instruments and enlisted in the Marine Band. He was playing in civilian orchestras as well and subsequently got a discharge from the Marine Band. At 18 he became director of the orchestra at a variety house in Washington and later led orchestras for a comedy troupe and for Morgan's Living Pictures.

In 1876 Sousa joined the orchestra conducted by Jacques Offenbach at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The musical sensation of the exposition, however, was Patrick Gilmore, and it was here that Sousa first heard and admired Gilmore's band. After playing for a number of Philadelphia theaters, Sousa returned to Washington in 1880 to become director of the U.S. Marine Band, a post he held for 12 years. He reorganized the band, altered its instrumentation, raised its prestige, and built up its library.

In 1892 Sousa formed his own band, capitalizing on his fame by calling it the New Marine Band. A concert band rather than a marching band, it made its first public appearance in September 1892 in Plainfield, N.J. Its initial season was only a moderate financial success, primarily because of an unwise selection of cities for the tour. The following year at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago the band attracted thousands of people to each concert. So popular were Sousa's programs that after a few weeks Theodore Thomas, the musical director of the exposition, canceled the more elaborate symphonic and choral events he had planned for the fair, feeling they could not compete. Charles Harris's sentimental ballad "After the Ball" became a national hit during the fair as played by Sousa; its success set a new trend in American popular music.

Soon Sousa's band, operating without any subsidy, proved an economic as well as a musical success. It played for most of the important expositions after 1893, made annual tours through the United States and Canada, and was acclaimed on four trips to Europe and on one venture around the world. Sousa was decorated by the crowned heads of Europe and by various academies and societies. When the United States entered World War I, he was made a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.

Sousa's fame as a composer was related to his success as a bandleader. Although his marches earned him the title of "March King," he nevertheless was influenced strongly by the style of Offenbach. Sousa's renowned marches include The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Washington Post, The High School Cadets, and The Gladiator. These are characterized by a strong rhythmic propulsion, jaunty, memorable tunes, and more wideranging harmony than normally found in marches. Many of his best marches came from operettas, and some were originally sung. Sousa's exposure to Offenbach, coupled with the astonishing American success of Gilbert and Sullivan, convinced him to try composing for the stage. He wrote 10 comic operas, achieving greatest acclaim for The Bride Elect, El Capitan, and The Free Lance. For some of his operettas he wrote the lyrics and libretto as well. He composed many other works of miscellaneous variety and wrote three novels. His autobiography is considered among the most readable memoirs in American letters.

Like Patrick Gilmore, Sousa wanted to create commercial music for pure entertainment. His understanding of the great music of the past or of his own day was slight. He succeeded in bringing high-quality military music to the public, achieving an instrumentation for the concert band that permitted effects as soft as those of a symphony orchestra. Artistic results were of secondary importance to Sousa; his first concern was to entertain his audiences. During his 40 years as bandmaster, Sousa lifted the concert band to popular heights it had never attained before, grossed an estimated $40 million, and was one of the most respected musicians of his generation. He died on March 6, 1932, in Reading, Pa.