You are browsing the archive for 2019 November 08.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About the Battle of Midway

November 8, 2019 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The mighty clash between Japanese and U.S. naval forces in June 1942 ended in a stunning—and surprising—Allied victory.

In May 1942, things were going Japan’s way. Since their surprise attack on U.S. forces at .

A celebrated Hollywood director shot footage of the battle.

A film still shows a US Navy aircraft carrier, likely the USS Enterprise, during the Battle of Midway, from the John Ford-directed documentary ‘The Battle of Midway,’ 1942.

Best known for his masterful Westerns, and his longtime collaboration with John Wayne, director John Ford was also an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and was tasked with making documentary films for the Navy during World War II.

At Admiral Nimitz’s request, the director was stationed on Midway during the battle, and suffered a “bomb concussion” and gunshot wound during the Japanese raid, according to now-declassified records. U.S. Marines gave Ford first aid, but he “did not leave his station until he had completed his photographic mission.”

Ford’s footage of the battle, and particularly the activities of U.S. B-17s (Flying Fortresses), appeared in The Battle of Midway, which won an Oscar for best documentary that year. Ford went on to lead the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA, for the remainder of the war.

The battle was a turning point—but maybe not for the reason you think.

Battle of Midway Tactical Overview – World War II (TV-PG; 14:57)

Over the years, Midway has assumed near-mythic status as the moment fortunes shifted in World War II’s Pacific theater. Its impact has sometimes been attributed to the battle’s devastating impact on the Japanese strike force, which included the loss of four aircraft carriers, nearly 300 planes and as many as 3,000 men, including Japan’s most experienced pilots.

In fact, as historian Evan Mawdsley has pointed out, Japan’s fleet rebounded from the battle relatively quickly: Yamamoto retained his two most modern carriers, Shokaku and Zuikaku, and four smaller carriers that had not accompanied the Kido Butai carrier battle group to Midway. The United States also sustained damaging losses at Midway, and by the time of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942, Japan was able to assemble a more powerful carrier fleet than the Americans.

Midway did, however, represent the point when the momentum shifted from the Japanese to the Americans in the Pacific. Japan’s Imperial Navy …read more

Source: HISTORY

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All the Ways People Escaped Across the Berlin Wall

November 8, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Desperation drove ingenuity among East Germans determined to reach West Berlin.

Ida Siekmann had been holed up for days. Nine days earlier, workers had sealed the border to her country by dead of night. Three days earlier, the front entrance to her apartment had been blocked off by police.

She had committed no crime, but Siekmann was in the wrong place at the wrong time: August 1961. Her apartment building was located in what had become East Berlin, while the street, including the sidewalk in front of her building entrance was now part of West Berlin.

Siekmann wanted out, so she …read more

Source: HISTORY

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More Dictator Than God: Kim Jong-Un's Cult of Personality Is Going Strong

November 8, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Key point: North Koreans have faced a severe level of psychological indoctrination.

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North Korea without doubt is unique. If nothing else, its claimed accomplishments rival the faux Russian achievements cited by Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek. Yet only the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has established a Communist monarchy, now reaching the third generation.

The real question for Kim Jong-un is whether he, like his father and grandfather, will follow the Ottoman practice of producing multiple children from multiple consorts. That always makes a succession fight much more interesting. Even so, royal baby sightings still are rare in the DPRK.

But the North Korean regime has gone a step further in claiming that Great Leader Kim Il-sung, grandfather to Cute Leader Kim Jong-un, as I call the latter, is not only god, but recognized as such by America’s legendary evangelist Billy Graham. On Kim Il-sung’s birthday last week, reported Adam Taylor in the Washington Post, the DPRK paper Rodong Sinmun reported that Graham, who traveled several times to North Korea, praised the senior Kim’s rule.

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Indeed, “said” Graham: “Having observed the Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung’s unique political leadership, I can only think that he is God.” Moreover, “if God is the leader of another world, savior and ruler of the past and future life that exists in our imagination, I acknowledge the Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung is the God who rules today’s human world.” The man who raised the Bible at thousands of crusades then “said,” according to the Rodong Sinmun, “Kim is this world’s God. Why would a country like this need the Holy Bible?”

Graham is long retired, in ill health, and out of public view. Officials at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association dismissed the claims as not reflecting “Mr. Graham’s theology or his language.” Certainly there’s no evidence that in thrall of the Great Leader the evangelist tossed aside his life’s calling to worship the modern equivalent of Baal. Kim, whose parents reportedly were believers, offered the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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City Wasting Money on Buses Few Residents Ride

November 8, 2019 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O'Toole

VIA, San Antonio’s transit agency, is in trouble. According to Federal Transit Administration data, the agency has spent tens of millions of dollars of your money to increase transit service by 17 percent since 2012, yet transit ridership (measured through the end of fiscal year 2019) has dropped by 24 percent.

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Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff thinks he has a solution: Throw more money at it. He wants to shift a sales tax now dedicated to protecting the Edwards Aquifer to VIA. This would give the transit agency additional funds to squander as it watches ridership continue to drop.

Transit is already one of the most heavily subsidized industries in the country, costing taxpayers an average of $5 every time someone steps aboard a public transit bus or train. Despite these subsidies, ridership is declining nationwide, though not nearly as fast as it is falling in San Antonio.

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In 2017, VIA collected $23.6 million in fares but spent more than $205 million operating transit. It also spends an average of $40 million a year on maintenance and capital improvements (mainly new buses).

Transit advocates will point out that driving is subsidized, too. Those subsidies should end, but they average only about a penny per passenger mile. By comparison, VIA subsidies average well over $1 per passenger mile.

There’s a good reason why VIA ridership is plummeting: Almost everyone today has a car. Census data reveal that, in 2018, only 2.7 percent of San Antonio workers lived in households that had no cars, well under the national average of 4.3 percent.

Moreover, just 27 percent of workers without cars took transit to work in 2018, down from 42 percent in 2012. In fact, more people who lived in households without cars drove alone to work — probably in employer-supplied vehicles — than took transit to work.

Although San Antonio’s population has grown by 11 percent since 2012, the number of people who take transit to work has declined by 14 percent. In 2018, just 19,600 people in the San Antonio urban area …read more

Source: OP-EDS