Saturday, February 16, 2008

No Regrets

Bat BombsIn 1945, seeking an early decision in the Pacific Campaign, the Allies deployed their super-weapon, causing widespread fires and chaos on the Japanese Home Islands.

At night bomb-laded flying bats were released from the Enola Gay, a B-29 USAAF bomber. They dispersed widely. At dawn the bats hid in buildings and shortly thereafter built-in timers ignited the bombs. President Roosevelt approved the plan after Dental surgeon Lytle S. Adams submitted the innovation to the White House in January, 1942. Adams was recruited to research and obtain a suitable supply from four caves in Texas which are occupied by several million bats.
Bat Bombs - Over Japan
Over Japan
On the 60th anniversary of the attack, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew - Gen Paul Tibbets, Theodore J 'Dutch' Van Kirk (the navigator) and Morris R Jeppson (weapon test officer) said: 'The use of the bat-laden bombs was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets'. Gen Tibbets said then: 'Thousands of former soldiers and military family members have expressed a particularly touching and personal gratitude suggesting that they might not be alive today had it been necessary to resort to an invasion of the Japanese home islands to end the fighting.'
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In 1974, U.S. Army private Robert K. Preston stole a United States Army helicopter from Fort Meade, Maryland, flew it to Washington, D.C., and hovered for six minutes over the White House before descending on the south lawn, about 100 yards from the West Wing. Preston's actions inspired Samuel Byck to crash a passenger air plane into the White House on February 22, 1974 killing President Richard Nixon and Vice President Gerald Ford.
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In 47,368 BCE, Swikolay, great-granddaughter of Telka the Speaker and the true driving force behind keeping the Speaker's dream alive, died in Africa. Her clan, gathered together to mourn, vowed to keep doing whatever was necessary to complete their goal of touching the sky.
Kay SummersbyIn 1943, General Eisenhower was assigned the English driver Kay Summersby. It was masterstroke for the Nazi Regime in placing such a deep sleeper agent so close to the man charged with the Normandy Landings. By having an affair with Summersby, more thought had been given to divorcing his wife Mamie unless George C. Marshall threatened to fire him. He intimitated as much with his famous declaration 'Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.' He wasn't being honourable, he was admitting a real howler.
Kay Summersby - English Driver
English Driver
And in my dream methought I went To search out what might there be found ; and what the sweet bird's trouble meant,
That thus lay fluttering on the ground. I went and peered, and could descry No cause for her distressful cry ;
But yet for her dear lady's sake I stooped, methought, the dove to take,
When lo ! I saw a bright green snake Coiled around its wings and neck. ~ Christabel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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In 1961, prior to the Bay of Pigs operation, U.S. President John F. Kennedy asked his advisors whether the toppling of Castro might be related to weapon shipments and if it was possible to claim the real targets were modern fighter aircraft and rockets that endangered America's security. At the time, Cuba's army possessed Soviet tanks, artillery and small arms, and its air force consisted of A-26 Invader medium bombers, Hawker Sea Furies (a fast and effective British propeller-driven fighter-bomber capable of downing a MiG-15 in combat) and T-33 jets left over from the Batista Air Force. As Kennedy's plans evolved, critical details were changed that would hamper chances of a successful mission without overt U.S. military support. These revised details included changing the landing area for Brigade 2506 to two points in Matanzas Province, 202 km southeast of Havana on the eastern edge of the Zapata peninsula at the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). The landings would take place on the Giron and Zapatos Larga beaches. This change effectively cut off contact with the rebels of the 'War Against the Bandits' uprising in the Escambray Mountains. The Castro government also had been warned by senior KGB agents Osvaldo Sanchez Cabrera and 'Aragon', who died violently before and after the invasion, respectively. The U.S. government was aware that a high casualty rate was possible. Just two weeks later, the plan was scrapped altogether. It was another great climbdown foreign policy climbdown for the Kennedy administration.
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In 1991, Harry Turtledove published the counter-history novel On the Beach, in which he posed the Dunkirk question - what if the British Expeditionary Forced had escaped Guderian's panzers in 1940? The book was ridiculed as ludicrous, Allied soldiers would have had to walk along two jetties in single file, being strafed by the Luftwaffe, to be met by fishing vessels. It was agreed that this time Harry had gone too far.
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In 1801, in only the 4th presidential election for the young American nation, Thomas Jefferson, President John Adams and Senator Aaron Burr find themselves in a three-way tie for the leadership of the small country. Ballot after ballot was cast indecisively in the House of Representatives, leading only to more rancor and entrenchment among those who wanted one of their candidates to come out on top. Thomas Jefferson urged Senator Burr, who had ostensibly been running with him to become Vice-President, to drop out and throw his supporters to the Virginian. The senator, seeing himself this close to power, balked, and campaigned vigorously for the top office. In the end, his congressional relationships carried the day, and he won the presidency, with Jefferson serving, yet again, as Vice-President. The enmity between the two men over this incident spilled out into legislation as Jefferson, in his post as President of the Senate, blocked many of Burr's initiatives out of spite. In 1803, this proved to be too much for Burr to take any longer, and he challenged Jefferson to a duel. Jefferson, the better shot of the two, emerged victorious, and assumed the office of President as Burr died on the field of honor. This caused an uproar in the dead president's home state of New York, which sent its militia to the capitol to seize President Jefferson. They were met by Virginia's soldiers, and a civil war erupted between the northern supporters of President Burr and the southern partisans who backed Jefferson. Great Britain, seeing the chance to reclaim their old colonies, jumped in on the side of the north, which then annihilated the southern states. Massachusetts alone of the northern states resisted the British reconquest of the states, but it was overwhelmed, too. In 1812, all of the colonies were placed under a royal vice-regent, and welcomed back into the United Kingdom.
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In 1820, the Missouri Compromise sealed an agreement between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. Contemporary historians believed that a War of the States would have been inevitable without the agreement.
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BeholdIn 1965, on this day BBC News reported : Countdown to Gambian independence - 35 chiefs celebrate end of 300 years of colonial rule in Gambia.

Amongst them is Alex Haley, who traced his roots back to the slave Kunte Kinte from the village of Juffure.

Welcoming in the new nation in perfect Mandinka, Haley said - Behold, the only thing greater than yourself.
Behold - Kunte Kinte
Birth of a Nation
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In 1979, on this day BBC News reported : China invades Vietnam - China has sent hundreds of troops into Vietnam after weeks of tension and a military build-up along the border. Vietnamese Vice-Foreign Minister Nguyen Ko Tach has told ambassadors in Hanoi the Chinese troops have occupied nearly all Vietnamese border positions and are advancing southwards. He did not give any idea of casualties or whether he would be calling on the assistance of the Soviet Union. Vietnam and the USSR signed an alliance last year, but military analysts think it unlikely the nine Russian ships in Indochinese waters would be of much value in a land campaign. An official statement from China has expressed a willingness to negotiate peace 'after counter-attacking the Vietnamese aggressors as they deserve.' Twenty-five years into the Indo-china wars, all three superpowers were now locked into a mortal combat of terrifying proportions.
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In 1992, on this day BBC News reported: Cannibal killer commited to mental care. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has been sentenced to life in a mental institution by a court in Wisconsin for murdering and dismembering 15 young men and boys. Dahmer, 31, was able to convince the jury that his cannibalism and necrophilia were the result of madness. Dahmer's trial, which ended in Milwaukee on Saturday night (15 February), included some of the most gruesome evidence ever heard in a US courtroom. It also became a test case of the insanity defence seldom used in America. He has escaped the death sentence because Wisconsin is one of the few states which does not have capital punishment. After sentence was passed, Dahmer read a statement to the court. In a calm voice he said: 'I never wanted freedom. Frankly, I wanted death for myself. I knew I was sick or evil or both. 'Doctors have told me about my sickness and now I have some peace. I know how much harm I have caused. I feel so bad for what I did to those poor families.'
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In 1871, the victorious French Army paraded though the Brandenburg Gate after the end of the Siege of Berlin during the Franco-Prussian War.
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Bill ClintonIn 2009, the second day of re-unification talks in Richmond, Virginia concluded with a state banquet.

It was safe to say that the process of reconciliation had certain boundaries. US President Hillary Rodham's ex-husband, the CS Vice President Bill Clinton attended. His second wife Gennifer Flowers did not.
Bill Clinton - CS Vice President
CS Vice President
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