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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Morning News and Views

Sunday July 4, 2010

Vote for independence was on July 2, 2010 and the signing began in August, so we actually do not celebrate the correct holiday. July 4 was the date that was placed on the declaration sent out to the states for ratification, which is the Fourth of July, comes from.

On this date in history, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was “said” to be signed, as explained earlier. In reality several of the signatures were not added until years later.

July 4,1826, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, his rival in later years, died within hours of each other. It was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On this date in 1831 President James Monroe passed away.

July 4, 1872 birthday of Calvin College, the first president to be afflicted by the newsman’s camera

And on this date in1997, CBS anchor and founding anchor of Sunday Mornings, Charles Kuralt passed away. In his honor the program aired some of Kuralt’s melodic reading of the Declaration of Independence.

I am going to hazard a guess as to why they aired only a few seconds of Kuralt’s readings. It is not because he is gone. I feel that in the 12 years since television, and along with it all of us, have grown faster in our Sunday pace, less relaxed. Media is now rated in ten six minute increments, whereas when Kuralt was on the air ratings were by the quarter hour or even half hour. We have many more channels to switch to ad our patience may be stretched to its limit by the demands on our time and mind in this mediated world. One thing is sure. We have changed.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere was a fiction written by Longfellow years later to rally support for the Civil War. In reality it was another rider who waited for the lamps, and Revere was one of many riders who passed the word that night.

The actual day the Declaration of Independence was agreed to and we declared we were a new nation, was July 2, 1776. It took two days to do the copies for the states to ratify, so the date on the declaration copies was July 4. Signatures came in August and even later for several "colonies".

Most of our history is engrained by childhood stories, songs, television and movies. We simply do not move beyond the fiction to learn the facts.

Another is that Britain did not attack us in the War of 1812, which actually took several years. The new country, the United States, did what was thought to be a preemptive strike on Canada, burning the British Colonies capital in what is now Toronto. Later when the British torched Washington DC is in direct retribution for our actions. No one will ever know if British forces massing in Canada were indeed going to attack or if Brittan was reinforcing control in the wake of separatist talk in parts of their remaining North American colonies.


Why do we have fireworks on the fourth?

What was a way of finding ships at sea, and even setting fire to wooden warships, became celebratory in Europe nearly a century before we became a country. So the transition to the US using it in celebrations here. John Adams requested bonfires and illuminations in honor of the signing in a1776 letter to his wife Abigail. In 1777 we had our first fireworks celebration. Fireworks did not take off as a key part of our civic life until after the War of 1812 and Francis Scott Key’s penning of the “Star Spangled Banner”. Today there are well over 14,000 official fireworks celebrations on the fourth, representing 90% of a 945 million dollar industry in the United States alone. 186 million pounds of backyard fireworks were set off in 2008 along. Fireworks have been set off all over the world on the Fourth, wherever Americans go. On July 4, 1934, Admiral Richard Bird’s Antarctic expedition set off a display at the South Poll despite 33 below zero weather in the face of a storm.

The Tea Party, like so many movements before it, is basing their definition of the intent of the founding fathers and the almost sacred nature of the Constitution and other documents. The truth is that the founding fathers were the progressives of their time, launching on an experiment that had not been tried since the fall of the Roman Republic. They saw it as a grand experiment, one that would, like all experiments, change over time in a constant flux of trial and error.

They also built into the constitution, and late the Bill of Rights, protections that fit their times. Education, a free press, the right to peaceful assembly, support of wide spread and solid education, the literacy of the public and the free flow of information by post or other method were all considered essential to a public who would have the right to vote and determine their own destiny.

One wonders how Jefferson, Adams, Washington and the lot would feel about deep budget cuts in schools, monopolistic control of the media and the ability to buy elections and the popular vote.

Boston Pops

This is the 125th season for the Boston Pops, which formed as a way to bring orchestral music to the masses. From the beginning they broke with tradition and offered beer and food at events, along with wine and cheese. In the mid 1930’s, at the height of the depression Arthur Fiedler took the Boston Pops into the modern age with phonograph recordings produced and sold at affordable prices, live radio broadcasts and later television. He came up with formula of the light orchestral at the beginning, concerto or serious in the middle, and “rock it out” at the conclusion with whatever was popular at the time (including the Beatles “I want to hold you hand” in 1964). John Williams came on board when Fielder died, and reinvigorated the orchestra with Hollywood music, including from his own films. Star Wars and Raiders of the Los Arch, Close Encounters and other Williams’s works became stables. But all along tunes that were once new and novel have remained among the music fans expect to be played. Of course today’s favorite remains “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the traditional closer for every Independence Day Celebration!

Norman Rockwell Americana and the movies.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas hold the largest personal collections of Norman Rockwell paintings, having auctioned some of them off to charity over recent weeks. It was a personal competition to see how would get the best and the most, but it was also a reflection of how the Normal Rockwell look influenced their cinematic images. George Lucas did “American Graffiti” in part due to a Rockwell influence, and “Spielberg” paid direct homage in “Indiana Jones”, in the scientist line up in “Close Encounters” and in “Empire of the Sun.” Rockwell himself was in turn influenced and used film techniques for the photographic models he used in his rough shots. He lit, set up the set and directed the models, as a film director would do. He used non-professionals, usually his neighbors, as models. In “ET” Spielberg used some Rockwellian direction techniques in framing and directing kids and animals. Rockwell, who began in advertising, loved to connect with the audience and sell his stories. So do Spielberg and Lucas. CBS Sunday Mornings featured the two in their homage to Rockwell.

Health Reform and Immigration: A Reversal of Parties, or Hypocrisy

The same people who are crying against “Obamacare” and moves to legalize illegal immigrants, who are already in the US, should read their history. The health plan is very much like the one proposed by Republican President Richard Nixon, and the immigration bill opposed by block voting from Republicans, was proposed and is almost identical to one proposed by Ronald Reagan, and has its rooms with former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.

We are too selective in lauding people with one side of our mouth while attacking people for the very same proposals, as the people we praise believed in.

Do you speak Globish?

“Globish” is a cross between the Queens English and American that has become the international language of business, trade and cross boarder communication. Predictions of Spanish or Chinese overtaking the language have faded, at least for the next century or more, in part due to Google, Microsoft, Apple and the base language of computers on a global scale.  Countries that resisted English, such as France, Germany and China, are now using it on a regular basis in business, government and even in schools. This is not without resentment. It is more a case of being resigned to the economic and political reality o communication. While it is true that more people, as their “home language”, speak Chinese than any other single language, and that Spanish is the “official” language to more people than English, both take a back seat in actual use outside of the home. Of course there is a price, both the Queen’s English and its American cousin are changing in the direction of a globalized hybrid, even when used at home. Immigration and commerce are to blame. As for dialects, they still exist, but television and international media are eroding their strength and dominance. Still subtitles may be needed t understand some English speakers even in countries where the official language is English.

Spies like us.

What happens to the all-American children of Russian spies? Can you imagine finding out your parents may be Russian spies? You are born and raised in America, with American friends, schooling and beliefs. How would you feel? NPR did a story on what may, could or will happen to the kids. The parents still have control, and may be even if convicted. In most states there is no “privilege” between parents and children, so children may be forced to testify against their parents. If deported, the children may have to go with them to Russia if that is what they choose.

News Briefs

Baldwin Park, CA is banning any new drive through in the birthplace city of the nation’s first drive-thru, In-N-Out, opened back in 1948. Pollution, health issues, traffic congestion and diversity of business were given as reasons for the moratorium.

Nevada State College President Fred J. Maryanski has died. He passed away at a hospice on Friday night, surrounded by family.

The spiritual leader of the militant Hezbollah is dead. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussenin Fedlallah dies of natural causes in hospital in Lebanon. While both the Ayatollah and Hezbollah deny that he was their cleric, he was known for being very anti-Israeli and US, very pro-Iran and pro-violence as a means to “cleans” Palatine.

BP says that tar balls collected along the coast do not match oil from the massive leak and could be spill from ships or other sources. Meanwhile the government now says that tar balls predicted for Miami and the keys are unlikely due to differences between weather and coastal flows from previous years.

New Orleans Chef Susan Spicer has filed a class action suit against BP, Halliburton and other companies over the BP oil sill and its impact of the city’s restaurants. Seafood is available, but Shrimp and Oysters are rare if at all, and the cost of all seafood is going up, which may drive smaller restaurants and smaller seafood industries (including individual fishermen) out of business. Seafood has to be rigorously tested now, so it is safe, but the perception of the rest of the country is impacting Gulf business.

The most important source of energy is not oil and gas, but food. It is the energy that runs people, animals, crops and life. It is the energy that drives a large portion of the American economy. Food should not be negotiable according to Chef Jose Andres. We need to protect where our food comes from. And this is not the first time. Just three years ago an entire ship broke in half of the coast of Spain, damaging the environment and the seafood industry in Europe. The chefs aggress that it is time for the oil companies to take responsibility and to make sure that disasters like this one never occur again.

A political assassination and greatly increased drug cartel violence going into today’s regional elections in Mexico. Many Mexicans in the effected areas are afraid to go to the polls, allowing Cartels de-facto control of the elections. A candidate for governor or a region was assassinated gang-land style, the campaign staff of a man running against a corrupt mayor died in a plane crash and attacks on other politicians have been discovered or even stopped with gunfire on several occasions. Why do they do it? In Mexico being in political office gives you great power, control of large amounts of money, and a very upper class life or your families.

Election Day in Poland today to determine the new government, following the death of most of the high officials in a plane crash in April while over Russia. While the acting president has the lead, the election is too close to call.

Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rival for the ministerial job in a still contested election, Ayad Allawi, to see if the post-election turmoil that threatens to leave the country without a government can be resolved. No political alliance won a majority in the election.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a world wide tour to challenge what the US calls “a global crackdown on human rights.” After meeting privately with the president of Azerbaijan, Clinton encouraged young activist there to “speak out in favor of social change.”

China is in the middle of major social change. A massive migration to the cities and the potential of income and a better standard of living has led to overcrowding, pollution, poverty and social unrest. In five years the number of urban dwellers is expected to surpass those who live in rural and “regional” China or the first time in history, exceeding 700 million city dwellers. The government is attempting to lure industries to rural China and has provided incentives and other support in rural areas not offered in the cities, in an effort to reverse this trend without ending China’s march toward industrial dominance of the word economy.

Japanese sports officials have ejected one of their top Sumo Wrestlers for gambling. It is the first time a wrestler has been ejected from the sport for gambling.

The Tour de France kicked off the first leg of the top international bicycle race this morning. Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong is considered one of the top contenders in the 138-mile challenging first leg ride between Rotterdam to Brussels. The Tour takes three weeks, ending July 25th on the famous streets of Paris.

Hospitals are not liable for mistakes made by independent contract doctors or nurses while working in their emergency rooms, according to a Nevada Supreme Court ruling.

Boulder City kicks off annual Damboree festivities

Betsy Lockwood, 21, gives Jacob Fennell, 1, a piece of watermelon Saturday at Memorial Park during Boulder City’s 62nd annual Damboree Celebration.

Click to enlarge photo
Children participate in games Saturday at Memorial Park during Boulder City's 62nd annual Damboree Celebration.
Click to enlarge photo
From left, Betsy Lockwood, 21, and Katelyn Conrad, 20, eat watermelon Saturday at Memorial Park during Boulder City's 62nd annual Damboree Celebration.
Boulder City’s Fourth of July weekend bash — the annual Damboree Celebration — has become a tradition for residents to socialize, barbecue and engage in epic water fights.
And this year, the 62nd for the festival, is no different.
The Damboree kicked off with a patriotic concert Friday night and a pancake breakfast this morning served by the Rotary Club. It culminates with the annual fireworks show on Sunday.
“I like the community spirit that’s here,” said resident Cheryl Ferrence, 64. “(The event) is old fashion, and it’s the way I remember life.”
Ferrence said she has participated in the celebration for 36 years and loves to watch the fireworks every year with her family.
Katelyn Conrad, 20, grew up in Boulder City and said the Damboree is a way to see old high school friends and relax. “The whole town gets together and it’s fun,” Conrad said.
This morning, people lined up along the city’s sidewalks for a parade, a portion of which is designated a water zone where float riders and the crowd engage in a water battle.
Ron Morris, 45, and Fernando Sendejas, 43, said they brought about 200 water balloons to throw at the floats this year. And even that wasn’t enough to satisfy them.
“We’re coming big next year,” Morris said.
Following the parade, residents dried off at Memorial Park with games and contests. Monica Sendejas, 35, said her four children entered the coin toss at the pool.
She said about $500 in change was thrown into the pool and retrieved. “The kids enjoy this,” she said.
But the biggest attraction of the weekend event is the fireworks show.
“The fireworks are so close and awesome,” Damboree Committee member Robin Reese said. “We work hard, (and) are proud to be Americans and independent.”