“Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon)” with Arlo Guthrie and Hoyt Axton

June 21, 2018

Marker to the 28 Mexico citizens who died in the Los Gatos Canyon crash in 1948. University of Arizona image via Smithsonian Magazine

Marker to the 28 Mexico citizens who died in the Los Gatos Canyon crash in 1948. University of Arizona image via Smithsonian Magazine

Deportations plague much of recent U.S. history. It never works out well for the U.S., on the whole, especially mass deportations.

Hoyt Axton and Arlo Guthrie joined to sing Woody Guthrie’s account of one catastrophic deportation incident.

A more urgent version of the song, by Lance Canales and the Flood, featuring the names of the 28 who died.

More: 

 


President Obama ordered U.S. flags to fly at half-staff, honoring victims of Boston explosions

April 16, 2013

lag at half-staff in Southborough, Massachusetts

A flag at half-staff in Southborough, Massachusetts (photo from 2010). Image from MySouthborough.com

This morning the White House issued a proclamation ordering U.S. flags at U.S. facilities worldwide to be flown at half-staff, honoring victims of the explosions in Boston, yesterday.

For Immediate Release .                                    April 16, 2013

Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the victims of the tragedy in Boston, Massachusetts

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on April 15, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, April 20, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA


Big Tex, RIP (1953-2012)

October 19, 2012

We took a few hours at the State Fair of Texas a few days ago.

Today comes the sad news that Big Tex, the symbol of the Fair, burned to his metal bones.

he two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

Big Tex at 60, earlier this week, catching sun on a good Fair day.

It was more of an unposed photo, as Kathryn and James read about the landscaping and the use of large, unsculpted Oklahoma stone in the garden at his feet.

Kathryn Knowles and James Darrell at the feet of Big Tex, 2012-10-17 State Fair 2012 024

Kathryn and James admiring the rockscaping at Big Tex’s garden, October 16, 2012

Big Tex looked fine — if we’d thought his 60 years showed at all, I’d have worked to get the focus just right, and get more of Tex in the photo.

Later that evening I thought the Dracula lighting might show a bit of his years.  Maybe it was just the lighting, though.  It had been a long day, and it was less than a week before the end of his 2012 run.

Big Tex at night 2012-10-16 State Fair 2012 243

Dracula lighting at night highlighted craggy old Tex’s age, perhaps.

Tex had always been a popular stop, one place everyone knew.  The family safety plan always included Big Tex.  “Where do I go if we get separated.”  “We’ll meet at Big Tex.”  Heck, even after the advent of cell phones, Big Tex was a popular meet-up-after-the-fair-day location.

They say your arteries, veins and nerves get worn after a good life.  Big Tex had some electronics in him, and electrical motors, to operate his jaw and to allow an announcer (in a booth on the ground) to play the Voice of Big Tex, offering a Texas “Howdy, Folks!” to people coming in to the Fair for the first, or 100th time.  One of those pieces of wire seems to have crossed another one this morning, some time after 8:00 a.m., just as the Fair opened for it’s last Friday of 2012 (the Fair closes Sunday).

There was a spark.  And then, he was gone.

Big Tex on fire, photo by John McKibbin via DallasNews.com

Big Tex on fire, photo by John McKibbin via DallasNews.com

More:


Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race against time to save lives’ | Need to Know (PBS)

July 24, 2011

About genocide and other political issues that lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people:  We keep saying “never again!”  When is never?  There is famine today in Somalia.

Alison Stewart of PBS’s Need To Know:

This week, the U.N. declared a state of famine in parts of Somalia. Need to Know speaks with Adrian Edwards of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video: Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race again…, posted with vodpod

[2014 Update: Video expired, no longer available for streaming. Story and some details, here.]

More, Resources:


Troops who fought in two wars now protect public against Missouri River flood and nuclear accident

July 10, 2011

Hoax claims died down a bit across the blogosphere, but the Missouri River still floods, and the two Nebraska nuclear power plants on the Missouri still face threats from the flood.

Comes news via the Omaha World-Herald that members of Nebraska’s and Iowa’s Air National Guard — many of them veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan — patrol the levees, helping protect against floods.  Among points of special concern are the nuclear power plants at Fort Calhoun and Cooper.

The military helicopter’s black shadow dances on an engorged Missouri River as the aircraft slowly loops the flood-encircled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station — the same left-leaning turns the pilot navigated two days prior.

Warrant Officer Boe Searight, 32, with the Nebraska Air National Guard wants the infrared camera mounted under the chopper to record similar flood scenes for levee experts on the ground to compare.

He and his colleague Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Schriner also are looking for new signs of trouble for the flooded plant.

“Keep daily eyes on it and see if anything changes,” says Schriner, 31.

Far below, on mosquito-infested riverbanks, two-person crews with the Nebraska National Guard and Iowa National Guard patrol the Omaha and Council Bluffs levees in mud-caked boots.

Members of the Guard are the front-line levee watchers in an operation that clearly has high stakes: Levees protect about 40,000 people from homelessness in the neighboring river cities — as well as the region’s key airport.

The levee watchers are out there right now — three shifts a day, all week, searching for gopher holes, chasing away sightseers who could fall from the levees, and checking for signs of water seepage.

More than 130 men and women with the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard work each day for flood duty, along with 120 from the Iowa Army and Air National Guard.

The idea is to spot trouble early. Levees don’t always give notice before they rupture, but more often than not they do.

If trouble is spotted, steps can be taken to shore up or boost a weakened levee.

Good to know.  Still no nuclear incident along the lines of the hoax report from the Pakistani outlet alleged to be based on a report from a Russian agency — which is also good news — but no cause for abatement of overall concern.

Sometimes safety preparations work.  Kudos to the Air National Guards, to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, and to the companies who own  the power plants.  May their work continue to pay off in no nuclear incidents.

Idaho Samizdat noted earlier that the bizarre conspiracy theories haven’t borne out as accurate or true in the least:

The flooding situation in Nebraska has been the subject of bizarre conspiracy theories originating in Russia and Pakistan alleging that a meltdown has occurred at Ft. Calhoun and that the government is covering it up.

One U.S. web site, Business Insider, ran with the story as legitimate and set off a huge round of copy cat reports on the Internet.

Reports of a U.S. news blackout are also part of the conspiracy theory even though Nebraska papers such as the Omaha World-Herald and the New York Times have run major stories on measures by the two reactor sites to prevent the flood waters from reaching important infrastructure such as switch yards


Do bednets make a difference?

September 4, 2010

Go see these two Associated Press photos from Pakistan, at MSNBC’s site — same location, same day.


Boy Scout died in fall from Utah’s Gemini Bridges

July 19, 2010

Tragic accident at a spectacular site in Utah’s desert.

A Scout from Wisconsin attempted a leap from one part of a natural bridge to another, lost his balance and fell to his death.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City:

A Wisconsin Boy Scout died Saturday after falling 100 feet from Grand County’s Gemini Bridges.

Anthony Alvin, 18, of Green Lake, Wis., was with a Scout group at the Gemini Bridges rock formation, which is on federal land northwest of Moab, deputies wrote in a press statement. At about 9:30 a.m., Alvin tried to jump from one span of the double bridge to the other span, six feet away, when he fell backwards, dropping 100 feet to the bottom of the bridges.

Rescuers rappelled off the bridges and found Alvin had died. His body was lowered down two separate cliffs to the bottom of Bull Canyon, deputies wrote.

Erin Alberty

Anthony Alvin was a member of Troop 630 from Green Lake, Wisconsin, in the Bay Lakes Council, BSA.  The Troop has years of experience in high adventure trips.  This was a transition trip for Alvin, moving from Scout to leader.

High adventure Scouting takes teens to outstanding places with some risks.  Strict safety rules protect Scouts and leaders from most accidents.  Jumping the gap between the two natural bridge sections is a leap that experienced rock climbers and Scouters should advise against — and probably did — precisely because of the dangers of minor mishaps, 100 feet or more in the air.  A six-foot gap would look eminently leapable to a capable young man.

This is a picture of Gemini Bridges from below:

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah - NaturalArches.org image

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah, from below. Image from NaturalArches.org image, photo by Galen Berry.

NaturalArches.org includes details about many of these natural spans in the desert Southwest, in Utah and Arizona.  For Gemini Bridges we get this warning note:

These magnificent twin bridges are a popular 4-wheel drive destination on BLM land northwest of Moab, Utah. A few foolhardy individuals have lost their lives here. One person fell to his death while attempting to jump the 10 feet between the two spans, and in October 1999 a jeep and driver fell 160 feet off the outer span.

From atop the bridges, the gap between the two can appear deceptively small — see one view here.

Gemini Bridges from the trail, on top - PaulandKate.com

For safety’s sake, no one should attempt to leap the gap without proper rock-climbing safety equipment in place and in use — and frankly, I’m not sure how it could be secured even then, in the sandstone.

Redrock country brings out the worst in otherwise adventurous-but-mostly-sane people.  Even rock climbers will act irresponsibly.

Four-wheelers and off-road vehicles frequently climb these trails — despite the dangers, the area offers a huge playground for people out of the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or National Forest Service, each of which discourage excessive vehicular risk taking.   Several sites extoll the glories of conquering these deserts with gasoline-power.

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges, from rockclimbing.com

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges captured on film, from rockclimbing.com

The photo at the bottom shows a memorial plaque to the four-wheeler who lost his life off of Gemini Bridges in 1999.  So long as people make monuments to people who pull daredevil stunts, others who have less experience, or even more sense, will be tempted to try the same daredevil stuff.

Go to these wild and beautiful places.  Please remember they are treacherous, however, and stay safe.

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

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Mexico earthquake: What do we know?

April 5, 2010

Baja California — that’s in Mexico, you European readers — got hit with a large earthquake tonight, a 7.2 on the logarithmic Richter Scale according to some early reports. At least one person died; Mexicali, on the border with California, reports many people trapped.  A state of emergency has been declared.

BBC gives the facts:

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has hit the Mexican peninsula of Baja California, killing at least one person and causing tremors as far away as Nevada.

The quake struck at 1540 (2240 GMT), 26km (16 miles) south-west of Guadalupe Victoria in Baja California, at a depth of 32km, said the US Geological Survey.

Some people are still trapped in their homes in the city of Mexicali, where a state of emergency has been declared.

It was the worst quake to hit the region for many years, officials said.

The US Geological Survey said some 20 million people felt tremors from the largest quake to hit the area since 1992.

My students with Mexico connections tend to come from farther east, and higher in the mountains — I don’t think I have a single student who visits Baja California on breaks.  But the news will prompt questions from them tomorrow.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tracks earthquakes around the world.  It should have solid information.  Data on the April 4 7.2 quake are here.

Here’s the tectonic summary:

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred at 3:40:40 p.m. (local time at the epicenter) on Sunday, 4 April 2010 in Baja California, approximately 75 km south of the Mexico-USA border. The earthquake occurred at shallow depth (approximately 10 km) along the boundary zone between the North American and Pacific plates. Since earthquakes have been recorded instrumentally, only two similar sized earthquakes have been recorded in the area. The first was the 1892 earthquake estimated at magnitude 7.0-7.2 along the Laguna Salada fault just south of the USA-Mexico border. The second was the 1940 Imperial Valley magnitude 6.9 earthquake which occurred in southernmost California. Today’s event is located nearly in line with these earthquakes along the plate boundary, but is situated farther to the south. There are several active faults in the vicinity of today’s earthquake, and the particular fault that generated this quake has not yet been determined. Faulting is complex in this region, because the plate boundary is transitional between the ridge-transform system in the Gulf of California and the continental transform system in the Salton Trough. Most of the major active faults are right-lateral strike-slip faults with a northwest-southeast orientation, similar in style to the San Andreas fault to the north. Other faults in the vicinity with the same orientation include the Cerro Prieto fault and the Laguna Salada fault.

USGS hosts good maps, too, like this “shake map” (click the map to go to the USGS site for more information):

USGS "shake map" for the April 4 7.2 quake near Mexicali, Mexico

USGS "shake map" for the April 4 7.2 quake near Mexicali, Mexico - Click to go to USGS site

What other questions can we anticipate?  Somebody will ask whether this quake is related to the Haiti and Chilean quakes (probably not closely related).  Somebody will wonder about the Pacific Ring of Fire, and this quake’s relation to volcanoes and general earthquake activity around the Pacific (high relationship).  Someone will want to know about quakes in your area.  Is this the precursor to “the Big One?”

The USGS site is a good place to start on all of those questions.


Becalmed in the Dallas Doldrums of the internet

February 16, 2010

Sorry about that.

Near the end of storm recovery in Dallas, on Sunday, our power went out.  Still out.

Well, at least partially.  I’ll leave it to the electricians, but we’ve lost all big power, 220-volts, to major appliances including the furnace and water heater, and half of our other house circuits, including the one that runs the DSL modem.

Posting will be slight while I shiver and curse and harangue Oncor Energy.


Yellowstone earthquake swarm, 2010

January 25, 2010

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

Earthquake swarm hits the area of the Yellowstone Caldera, around Yellowstone Park; wackoes start predicting the End of the World As We Know It, at least for West Yellowstone, Montana, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Unless they are Bobby Jindal, and they predict that the quakes didn’t even happen.

Oh, yeah — that was the series of earthquake swarms in late 2008 and early 2009, right?

Not exactly.  It’s happened again.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory logo
YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY INFORMATION STATEMENT
Thursday, January 21, 2010 2:26 PM MST (Thursday, January 21, 2010 2126 UTC)

Yellowstone Volcano
44°25’48” N 110°40’12” W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL
Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

The earthquake swarm on the northwest edge of Yellowstone Caldera that began on January 17, 2010 continues.

PRESS RELEASE FROM YVO PARTNER UNIVERSITY OF UTAH SEISMOGRAPH STATIONS

Released: January 21, 2010 2:00PM MST

This release is a continuation of information updates building upon our two previous press releases on the ongoing earthquake swarm on the west side of Yellowstone National Park. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a pair of earthquakes of magnitude 3.7 and 3.8 occurred in the evening of January 20, 2010 in Yellowstone National Park.

The first event of magnitude 3.7 occurred at 11:01 PM and was shortly followed by a magnitude 3.8 event at 11:16 PM. Both shocks were located around 9 miles to the southeast of West Yellowstone, MT and about 10 miles to the northwest of Old Faithful, WY. Both events were felt throughout the park and in surrounding communities in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

These two earthquakes are part of an ongoing swarm in Yellowstone National Park that began January 17, 2010 (1:00 PM MST). The largest earthquake in the swarm as of 12 PM, January 21, 2010, was a magnitude 3.8. There have been 901 located earthquakes in the swarm of magnitude 0.5 to 3.8. This includes 8 events of magnitude larger than 3, with 68 events of magnitude 2 to 3, and 825 events of magnitude less than 2. There have been multiple personal reports of ground shaking from observations inside the Park and in surrounding areas for some of the larger events (for felt reports, please visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/dyfi/). Earthquake swarms are relatively common in Yellowstone.

The swarm earthquakes are likely the result of slip on pre-existing faults rather than underground movement of magma. Currently there is no indication of premonitory volcanic or hydrothermal activity, but ongoing observations and analyses will continue to evaluate these different sources.

Seismic information on the earthquake can be viewed at the University of Utah Seismograph Stations: http://www.seis.utah.edu/.

Seismograph recordings from stations of the Yellowstone seismograph network can be viewed online at: http://quake.utah.edu/helicorder/yell_webi.htm.

Anyone who has felt earthquakes in the swarm are encouraged to fill out a form on the USGS Community Felt reports web site: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/dyfi/.

This press release was prepared by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory partners of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Utah, and the National Park Service: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) is a partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park, and University of Utah to strengthen the long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake unrest in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Peter Cervelli, Acting Scientist-in-Charge, USGS

pcervelli@usgs.gov (650) 329-5188


The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) was created as a partnership among the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Yellowstone National Park, and University of Utah to strengthen the long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake unrest in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

Here’s the map as of Sunday night, January 24, 9:10 p.m. MST (where the observatory is located); while this map may update here, you may want to click over to the observatory for more information (click on the map):

Yellowstone National Park Special Map, showing earthquakes in last week.

Yellowstone National Park Special Map, showing earthquakes in last week.

Eruptions has a short post on the swarmVolcanism, which covers volcanoes better than Sherwin-Williams covers the world, has a short post, probably appropriate to the newsworthiness.  Stoichiometry mentions them.  Not much to say yet, right?  Yellowstone Insider doesn’t seem too alarmed.

In mass media, The Billings (Montana) Gazette notes that these quakes are probably just shifting rocks, and not volcanic activity.  The headline in the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle captures the news:  “Earthquake Swarm Suggests Just Another Day in Yellowstone.”

Meanwhile, Scott Bowen at True/Slant sounds just a little alarmistRalph Maughan sets the right tone:  “No, it doesn’t mean the end is near.”  The tinfoil hat concessions probably won’t make nearly the money they did a year ago.

Outside of the Yellowstone and Intermountain areas, students will probably ask about 2012.  Tell them the Mayans didn’t know anything about Old Faithful.

Resources:

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Cuba treats Chernobyl victims

April 7, 2009

Here’s a very odd news item.  It’s odd because, first, the disaster at Chernobyl is widely dismissed, and certainly out of the news, so it’s unusual to see any news item that suggests it remains a big problem, or that hints at what a big problem it was (especially from a nominally communist view); and second, who would have predicted Cuba would play a role at all?

I found this at a blog dedicated to news from and about Cuba, Nacho’s Blog/El Blog de Nacho.  I’m guessing “acn” is a Cuban news agency:

(acn) – Havana – Over 20,000 children suffering from different diseases have been seen in Cuba as part of the Cuban Medical Program for Children of Chernobyl, marking last Wednesday the 19th anniversary of its creation. The plan began in 1990, when children and their relatives began to arrive en masse from Russia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldavia and Armenia to the former Pioneer Children’s Camp in Tarará, east of this city. Dr. Julio Medina, coordinator of the Program, explained that from 700 to 800 children arrive in Cuba annually to be treated by multidisciplinary teams of Cuban specialists. So far, patients with blood diseases have been treated, especially with different variants of leukemia; bone marrow and kidney transplants have been done, as well as cardiovascular surgery due to congenital malformations.

Ukrainian Dr. Nadiezhda Guerazimenko, coordinator of the Program in that country, highlighted the professionalism of Cuban doctors. She added that the best example of this statement lies in the high figure of patients who have returned to their respective countries cured of their ailments. The Program has a significant impact in the health and recovery of children and their families. In its almost two decades of existence, it has treated more than 16,000 Ukrainians, almost 3,000 Russians, and 671 Byelorussians. Some 40,000 people died immediately and millions were contaminated as a result of the nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986, which at first hit the Ukraine, and then extended to Russia, Belarus and different parts of Europe and Asia. The event caused several types of diseases, like leukemia, tumors, heart malformations, kidney problems, psoriasis, vitiligo and alopecia. Many of the children and youngsters seen today in Cuba weren’t even born when the disaster occurred. However, their parents were affected by the radiation.

______________

Yes, it turns out “acn” is the Cuban News Agency.


Oops! Gustav hammered Baton Rouge, no one noticed

September 8, 2008

While everyone is patting themselves on the back for getting people out of New Orleans in fine fashion, and nervously tracking Hurricane Ike, another tragedy unfolds out of public view:  Baton Rouge got hammered by Gustav.  A week after the storm hit, half the city is still without power.

Anna West, at right with her son Anton Guevarra, and Zahli and Mira Bhayroo at the Baton Rouge, La., home of Lori Waselchuk, a freelance photographer (New York Times)

Anna West, at right with her son Anton Guevarra, and Zahli and Mira Bhayroo at the Baton Rouge, La., home of Lori Waselchuk, a freelance photographer (New York Times)

Baton Rouge provided refuge for New Orleanians fleeing the devastation of Katrina.  While the city braced for a new wave of global warming refugees, it wasn’t prepared to get hammered itself.

Have you heard or seen much on the news about the levels of destruction in Baton Rouge?

What if we had a hurricane wipe out a city other than New Orleans, and no one noticed?

How many other places are in rather desperate straits, with no notice from national media?  The New York Times appears to have missed the damage, though a reader named Allison tried to tell them in comments to one post at the Lede:

I too am a Louisiana native and live in the nation’s capital. My family lives in Baton Rouge and I can’t quite figure out why Louisiana is treated like a third world country every time a major hurricane hits the state. They are still without power(day 4) and some are without running water. There are reports that it could be weeks before it is fully restored. If it were New York, Washington, D.C., or even Los Angeles every electric truck in the country would have been there days ago to help repair downed lines. Instead all we are hearing about in the media is how well Pres. Bush and Gov. Jindal prepared for this hurricane! Go figure!

— Posted by Allison

Some say Baton Rouge would not be swamp kill from Gustav, had Bobby Jindal been elected governor of Louisiana.

Oy.

Old American Airlines pal Gil Brassard called to say he’s got a new generator, and can charge his cell phone to call out, but still doesn’t have any other electricity.  He complimented Jindal on the job he’s doing.  Is the rest of electricity-short Baton Rouge doing as well as Gil?  Who knows?

Do you think the McCain campaign’s presence in the early part of the storm distracted FEMA, the president and the governor?

Signs a news story is being missed:


Iowa Scout tragedy – a message from the Chief Scout Executive

June 14, 2008

Chief Scout Executive Robert J. Mazzuca issued this message yesterday, regarding the tornado strike at Mid-America Council’s Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western Iowa. For the record, for your information and action:

Robert J. Mazzuca
Chief Scout Executive

June 13, 2008

To our Scouting family:

We were all shocked and saddened by the news coming out of Western Iowa. The tornado that ripped through our Little Sioux Scout Ranch left a terrible wake of destruction in its path. We mourn the lives lost and injuries suffered as a result of the storm. And we extend our deepest sympathies and concern to the families of those who were affected.

BSA President John Gottschalk and I have pledged the full support of the National Council to assist in any way. Particularly during this period of front-line response, most of the effort is being managed by the outstanding Mid-America Council. We are grateful for Lloyd Roitstein and his staff, who have shown remarkable leadership during this very challenging time. The local council has placed a very high priority on tending to the needs of the impacted families. We continue to remain in close contact and are helping to coordinate communication across the local council network. The National Council is prepared to engage further at any time.

Understandably, we are receiving many calls from all across the country from staff, volunteers, Scouts, and families who want to be supportive. Thank you, everyone, for this outpouring of support. We have put into place a process for properly channeling offers of financial assistance for the impacted families, as well as interest in volunteering time to the effort. Right now, we need to give emergency responders and the local council time to attend to the task at hand. Very soon, the effort will turn to rebuilding and reconstructing. Upon the determination of exact needs, we will follow up with you.

Please forward contact information and offers of support to our emergency response e-mail at oomcd@netbsa.org. Anyone interested in making a donation to help rebuild Scouting in the communities affected by the tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest go to www.scoutingfriends.org. Select “BSA Disaster Relief.”

Again, we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. At the same time, however, we are moved by and proud of the way in which our Scouts, leaders, and the local council have responded. There is no question that this terrible situation would have been worse if it were not for the heroic efforts of the young men who were on the ground when the tornado hit. They epitomize what is so very special about being a Scout.

Please join me in keeping all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers. God bless our Scouts.

Yours in Scouting,

Robert Mazzuca signature

Robert J. Mazzuca signature

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Robert J. Mazzuca
Chief Scout Executive

Memo in .pdf form

Tip of the old scrub brush to Debie Franz, Wisdom Trail District, Circle 10 Council


Quote of the moment: Price of repeating history

November 3, 2007

 

“Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.”

Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress, (House of Anansi Press, 2004) (Carroll and Graf, 2005)

Cover of Ronald Wright's A Short History of Progress(This book resulted from Ronald Wright’s 2004 lectures in the famous Canadian series, the Massey Lectures. The lectures are broadcast on radio by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), whose website features an excerpt from the Wright lectures. You may get a podcast of Wright’s lecture 1, here; and lecture 2, here. Wright suggests that, after 10,000 years of experimenting with civilization, generally leading to failure, we have a chance to get things right, now, if we act wisely. “It describes in particular how four historical civilisations – those of Easter Island, Sumer, the Maya and Rome – self-destructed due to a lack of foresight and to wrong choices. Wright argues ‘each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.'” Martin Scorsese is developing the movie rights.)

Wright’s use of the phrase is the earliest I’ve been able to document quickly; but it’s a popular phrase now. Please note in comments if you know of an earlier use that can be tracked down.

 


1956 airline disaster at Grand Canyon

October 17, 2007

Another piece of history of the 20th century often overlooked: June 30, 1956, two airliners collided over the Grand Canyon.

The newsletter of the Grand Canyon Association featured a good, concise story with photos this summer. It’s in .pdf format.


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