Monday, June 30, 2014

SCOTUS Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby does not have to pay for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their employ health insurance plans, thus allowing businesses to operate without violating the religious convictions of their owners.

Read more at LifeNews, the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News.

UPDATE:  Via Hot Air, the attorney for Hobby Lobby's owners talks with a CNN reporter.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Years Ago: Gavrilo Princip Assassinates Austrian Archduke

One hundred years ago today, a previously unknown teenage Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie as their motorcade drove through the Bosnian city of Sarajevo.  At the time, Bosnia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The shooting would soon lead to the onset of World War I, after Austria Hungary accused neighboring Serbia of being involved.

Princip, his actions, his victim, and his legacy have been remembered today:

ABC News in Australia has an article about Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

B92 reports on a monument to Princip in Sarajevo.

The Telegraph reports on today's events in Sarajevo.

The Guardian tells about how the people of Sarajevo are "split" in their views of Princip.

Fox News similarly tells about how Bosnians are divided over Princip's legacy.

Daijiworld has a historical report on Princip, the assassination, and its aftermath.

The American Conservative opines that the conditions that led to World War I are with us today.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Howard Baker 1925-2014

Former Senator Howard Baker, known for posing the question "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" while serving on the committee investigating the Watergate scandal, has died at age 88 at his home in Huntsville, Tennessee.  He was the first Republican popularly elected to the Senate from Tennessee, and became Majority Leader after the Republicans took the Senate in the 1980 election.  After his time in the Senate, Baker became chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan, an envoy to Russia under President George H. W. Bush and Ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush.

Howard Henry Baker Jr. was born in Huntsville, Tennessee on November 15, 1925.  His mother, Dora, died when he was eight years old.  His father, Howard Baker Sr., served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1951 until his death in 1964, whereupon his widow, the former Irene Bailey, was elected to serve out his term.  Baker became a champion debater in elementary school, graduated from a military academy, studied electrical engineering at the University of the South and Tulane, served as a lieutenant, jr. grade in the U.S. Navy toward the end of World War II, and earned his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Tennessee.  He was married to Joy Dirksen, daughter of Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill), until her death from cancer.  He later married another former Senator, Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan).  Besides Kassebaum, he is survived by his two children, four grandchildren, a sister and a half-sister.

9-0, Twice

The Supreme Court rendered two unanimous decisions today, one of which affects the president:

From the Washington Times, the court strikes down Obama's recess appointments, which were made when the Senate was not actually at recess.

From USA Today, the court strikes down a Massachusetts law requiring demonstrators to remain at least 35 feet away from abortion clinics.  (via Jill Stanek)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Illegal Aliens To Be Housed At Border Patrol Facility

From Fox News (and the "you gotta be kidding me" department):
The federal government has found a place in New Mexico to help house the tide of humanity pouring in from Mexico: The Border Patrol Academy, the very facility where agents are supposed to be trained to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S.
I guess we can look at the bright side.  The Border Patrol trainees could have a chance to familiarize themselves with some genuine illegal aliens.  What's next, prisoners to be housed at a police academy?

Read the full story at the above link.

DOC: Economy Contracted By 2.9% During First Quarter

The Department of Commerce has the duty of reporting on the state of the economy every three months.  In doing so, they give a preliminary estimate, which is later revised.  Today, the DOC stated that the US GDP contracted during the first quarter of 2014 by a 2.9% annual rate.  The rate had previously been estimated to have been a contraction of 1.0%.

Read the story at CNBC.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Rearrested At Airport

Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim, who had been released from prison less than 24 hours earlier, after facing a charge of apostasy by leaving Islam (which she has never practiced), has been re-arrested with her family at the Khartoum airport.  According to their lawyer, no reason was given for their detention.

Read the story at The Telegraph, BBC World, The Christian Post and CNN.

UPDATE:  The BBC article is now saying that Ibrahim and her family have been released again.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Links

With the weekend upon us, here are some things recently in the news:

From Channel 4 News, some Iraqis are adapting to life under ISIS rule.

From American Thinker, America is now "importing the problems abortion was supposed to eliminate".

From D. C. Clothesline, a Baltimore cop is charged with animal cruelty for allegedly slitting a dog's throat.

From The Roanoke Times, federal officials have dropped their plans to shelter illegal immigrant children at St. Paul's College.

From The Daily Caller, Vice President Biden says that some of the "Dream Deluge" illegal immigrants may get citizenship.

From Yahoo News, hundreds in Afghanistan protest alleged fraud in last week's presidential runoff election.

From ABC News, a Belorussian human rights activist has been released from jail after three years.

From CNYCentral, an atheist in Greece, New York has been given the honor of delivering the opening prayer at a town board meeting.  To whom or what he will be praying has not yet been determined.

From Bloomberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin orders his troops to be on combat alert.

From Fox News, a home invasion case in Ferndale, Washington is solved thanks to help from the home's 4-year-old resident.

And from Barstool Sports, a driver in Milwaukee finds a Starbucks drive-thru hard to drive through, because it doesn't actually exist.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

March For Marriage 2014, Part 2

At the March For Marriage, there were quite a few speakers.  Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) was joined by an interpreter who rendered his speech into Spanish.

Here's another shot of Santorum and the interpreter.

The definition of marriage may seem like a Christian concern, but these Jewish men were also there to weigh in.

This George Washington re-enactor was kind enough to pose for a picture.

The last speaker was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R).  I must confess that I did not take a photo of all the speakers.

With the speeches over with, it was time to march.

I swung around to take a shot of the marchers behind me.

I took only one photo when we were near the Supreme Court, of which this is the front.  If you were a pedestrian, you had 13 seconds left to cross the street.

March For Marriage 2014, Part 1

My participation in political rallies took a different turn earlier today as I attended the 2014 March For Marriage.  The event started in front of the west side of the Capitol with some music being played through the PA system, but was officially opened with an acapella version of The Star Spangled Banner by Alex Holt & Free Worship followed by a pretty long series of speeches.  When the speeches were finished, we marched up to the Supreme Court building, which is across the street from the east side of the Capitol.

Here are some participants walking into the area east of the Capitol.

As I continued to approach the Capitol, I took this shot of some people in the crowd.

Looking back to where I had entered the Capitol grounds, more people were coming in.  Some people carried signs that said "Every child deserves a mom & dad" on one side and "Cada niño merece mama y papa" on the other.   A large number of participants were Hispanic.

Someone on stage tests a microphone as the crowd continues to gather.

The Colors are presented.

Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage, was what you could call the master of ceremonies.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, whom former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) tried to talk out of attending the march, was nonetheless there to give his speech.

Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan) had his family join him at the podium.

To be continued in Part 2.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Return To OAS - And Some Exercise

After being away for so long, today I finally went back down to Washington, DC to check up on Operation American Spring.  As it turned out, there were only a few people hanging around at our spot, known as Camp Liberty.  There was only one sign present, held to a frame of PVC pipe by elastic bands.  Chloe the Patriotic Pooch barked at me and then turned over for a belly rub.

With some help, I got this closer shot of the OAS flag.

During the day, I walked all the way down to the Korean War Memorial.  I had been there several times before, but had never gotten any pictures.  Here are most of the statues, which look like men advancing through harsh terrain.  You can see part of the reflecting wall to the left.

Here are most of the statues from a different angle.

This is part of the reflecting wall.  You can see reflections of some statues and surrounding trees, along with the pictures incorporated into the wall.

On the way back to Camp Liberty, I took a shot of the John Paul Jones Memorial.  The statue faces north, and is therefore never in sunlight, but with a cloud passing overhead, the background was also in shade.

Residents Of Presidents In Illinois

After my swing through Iowa, I turned eastward and stopped in Galena, Illinois and made a brief stop at the home of General and eventual President Ulysses Grant, who lived in the house just after the civil war.  Here's the house as seen from the adjacent street.

Near the house is this statue of First Lady Julia Dent Grant.

Across the street was this cabin.  Like the cabin near the "world's smallest church" in Iowa, this cabin has been transported away from its original location.

After visiting Galena, I proceeded eastward and southward to Dixon and the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan, next to which is this statue of him.

Here's the house itself, which was restored in 1984, just in time for a visit from its famous former occupant.  In the garage to the right and behind the house is a restored Ford Model-T.

The World's Smallest Church

A few miles west of Festina, Iowa and just off a dusty gravel road is St. Anthony's of Padua Catholic Church, which is claimed to be the world's smallest church.  Inside, there are four pews, each of which looks like it could hold two adults.  Here's the view from the front.

Here's the church from the back and from one side.

Within the church grounds is this cabin, which had been moved from its original location about 10 miles away.  You can see the church and a statue in the background.

Burr Oak, Iowa

After visiting Winona, Minnesota, I turned southward and drove into Iowa, stopping at Burr Oak to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.  I was too late (just like in Winona) to catch any tour, but I did get to see the visitors center, which (as the sign indicates) was once a bank.

On the other side of the street from the old bank was the main part of the museum, which had at one time been a hotel.  Behind it was a park and this covered wagon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pro-Life Group Wins Free Speech Case

From The Washington Free Beacon:
A prominent pro-life group won a decisive victory against an Ohio state law that blocked a series of campaign ads during the 2010 election.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), a non-profit organization that supports pro-life candidates, had every right to establish billboards stating that a vote for Obamacare meant a vote for taxpayer funded abortion during the 2010 midterm elections.
Read the full story.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Onward To Minnesota

After the archaeological tour I was on came to its conclusion, I hopped into the trusty Bigfootmobile and drove westward across Wisconsin and into Minnesota.  Soon after crossing the Mississippi, I came upon a scenic overlook.  It wasn't very high above the highway, but it allowed me to see the King's and Queen's Bluffs, which are in Minnesota just south of the overlook, behind a grove of trees across the highway.

Further up the road, I found a place to pull off and look across the Mississippi back into Wisconsin.

After proceeding up to Winona, Minnesota, I took this pic of Sugarloaf Bluff, a local rock formation whose shape is partially the result of quarrying operations.

Winona has its own Polish Museum, but smutno, spóźniałem się (sadly, I was late) and it was closed.  I could only take a picture of the entrance.

The Polish community of Winona has their own Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Kostka, popularly known as St. Stan's, which in 2011 was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Minor Basilica.  It was tricky trying to take a picture of church without too many electrical wires or other buildings in the way, but here's the shot I was able to take.

Before this trip, my only contact with the state of Minnesota has been changing planes at Minneapolis International Airport.  According to a certain definition of having been somewhere, you can say that you've been to a place only if you have relieved yourself other than in the airport.  I'll spare you the details, but at last I can truly say that I've been to Minnesota.

Before I move on the next portion of my travelogue, let me make a culinary recommendation.  If you're on Interstate 90 in western Wisconsin, one place to stop is Burnstad's European Restaurant in Tomah.  For an appetizer, I recommend the chicken spaetzle soup.

Tony Gwynn 1960-2014

Tony Gwynn, who played baseball for the San Diego Padres for his entire 20-year major league career, has died of salivary gland cancer.  Before turning pro, he had played baseball for three years and basketball for four years at San Diego State University.  As a major leaguer, Gwynn posted a career batting average of .338 and won 5 Gold Gloves.  After retiring from the Padres, he returned to SDSU to coach baseball.  Gwynn is survived by his wife, his daughter and his son Tony Gwynn Jr., who currently plays for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Read more at CNN, the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, NBC San Diego, CBS News and Fox News.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Panther Intaglio And Aztalan Mounds

The Panther Intaglio, located in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is what could be called a "mound in reverse".  Instead of a structure being raised and shaped into an effigy, an intaglio is dug into the ground, in the process being formed into a desired shape.  Archaeologists believe that the panther shape represents a water-dwelling spirit.  Two signs along a side street indicate the intaglio's location.

Here's part of the Panther Intaglio, which is next to an ordinary house.

The Aztalan Mounds are the featured attraction in a Aztalan State Park, near Lake Mills, Wisconsin.  These mounds are platform mounds, similar to those at Cahokia in Illinois.  Archaeologists believe that Aztalan might have been an outpost of the culture that was centered at Cahokia, or perhaps a rebellious offshoot of Cahokia that set up their own capitol.  To what extent the inhabitants of Aztalan were either migrants from Cahokia (or elsewhere) or indigenous to the local area is a matter of differing opinion among archaeologists.  Much of Aztalan, like Cahokia, was surrounded by a wooden stockade, part of which has been reconstructed, including this bastion.

Just beyond the bastion was the back of the largest mound in Aztalan.

Moving around to the side, we see that the mound has two levels.

Looking down to the other end of Aztalan, we see its other large mound, called the "mound of death" because of the burials found around it.

Moving still further around the first mound, we see two modern wooden stairways.  The largest mound at Cahokia, Monk's Mound, also has such stairways.

Casey Kasem 1932-2014

Casey Kasem, who was the original host of the radio show American Top 40 and the voice of the character Shaggy on the cartoon Scooby-Doo Where Are You!, died earlier today of complications from dementia.  He recently had gone missing, but turned up in Washington state.

Kemal Amen Kasem was born on April 27, 1932 in Detroit to parents who had immigrated from Lebanon and worked as grocers.  Kasem graduated from Wayne State University and worked as a radio disc jockey and announcer, including a stint in the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network after being drafted into the U.S. Army.  He hosted American Top 40 from 1970 to 1989, and again from 1998 to 2004.

Kasem was married twice, first to Linda Myers (1972-1979), with whom he had three children, and then to Jean Thompson (1980-2014), with whom he had his fourth child.

Read more at the New York Daily News, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mounds At A Mental Hospital

The Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, Wisconsin was built on a plot of land that already contained several groups of effigy mounds.  Its buildings were thus located to keep the mounds intact.  Because of the nature of the place, we were advised not to go wandering off during our visit.

This group of conical mounds is located near the old superintendent's house.

These two trees are rooted in one end of a mound that is thought to represent a bear as seen from above, in other words, an "aerial view bear".

Here's a closer view of the largest of the three conical mounds, with the old superintendent's house behind it.

In another part of the MMHI grounds is an effigy mound with a long curved "tail", with trees growing out of it.

These straight embankments with sharp corners form part of a bird effigy mound.

This is part of another bird effigy.

This two-lobed mound is thought to represent a small animal such as a beaver.  The trees are not growing on the mound, but are behind it.

A mental institution might seem an odd place to find Indian mounds, but 12 years ago, I visited a site that I would consider even more unusual, a golf course.

Man Mound

Just northeast of Baraboo, Wisconsin is the only remaining effigy mound in the state that is shaped like a human.  The "head" of the mound includes two protrusions which are sometimes referred to as "horns".  The mound and its namesake park are located just off its namesake road.  Here are two signs next to the mound.

This shot looks up from the "legs" of the mound.  The two ladders were set up near the "head", to give a slightly elevated view for anyone making a short climb.

During the construction of Man Mound Road, the "feet" and lower parts of the "legs" were destroyed.  The white paint indicates where they used to be.

Across the road were some local residents.

This last shot was taken after climbing one of the ladders, and looks down from the "head" of the mound.  The two "horns" can easily be seen.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Swing Into Iowa

After viewing several mound sites in Wisconsin, we went over to Iowa, to visit Effigy Mounds National Monument and Pikes Peak State Park, both of which are close to the Mississippi River.  Looking east from the visitor center at Effigy Mounds NM, the closer body of water (with the two men fishing from their boat) is Bluegill Pond.  On the other side of the railroad tracks is the Mississippi, beyond which is Wisconsin.

This group of conical mounds is a short walk from the visitor's center.

This path leads up to several groups of mounds within Effigy Mounds NM.  We didn't get to see any of them because the bus could not (and did not try to) travel on the back road leading to them.

Over at Pikes Peak SP, the Bear Mound was a short distance from the parking lot.  Here's part of the mound, mainly the lower part of the "bear".

Some archaeological tourists take a walk around the "bear".

Pikes Peak is set on a bluff above the Mississippi, and thus included some great viewing areas.  This view looks north, with Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in the background.

Looking east, we could see a railroad bridge span the mouth of the Wisconsin River as it empties into the Mississippi.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kingsley Bend Mounds

The Kingsley Bend Mounds are located a few miles east of Wisconsin Dells, and are sacred to the Ho Chunk Indians.  When we arrived, I thought that this hill might be a mound, but as it turned out, only the very top was man-made.

The mound on top of the hill can be more easily seen from this angle.

Next to the hill was this row of conical mounds.

Behind the hill and conical mounds was a downward bluff, and what I call a "modern intrusion".

A closeup of the sunlit side of the mound on the hill.

At another site near Wisconsin Dells, just off a back road, one of our archaeologist hosts tells us about raised garden beds, as he stands in the ditch between two of them.  During the 11th century, native people planted crops on the raised beds while allowing water to flow in the adjacent ditches.

Lizard Mound Park

I've spent most of the last week running around several Midwestern states, including taking a tour of archaeological sites in Wisconsin and Iowa.  Most of the places we saw featured effigy mounds, which are shaped to resemble various animals or in rare cases a human, and have a height of just a few feet.  Interspersed with the effigy mounds are circular ("conical") mounds and others shaped like a straight line.  The first place we visited was Lizard Mound Park, just north of West Bend, Wisconsin.  The park includes this pavilion and several informative signs.

Here's the "Welcome" sign, held by a frame that includes a beige outline of one common type of effigy mound shape.

Here's a close up of the "Welcome" sign.

This mound is long and straight, and is shown from one end thereof.

It's hard to tell that there's a mound here, because of the high grass growth.

Another mound is overgrown with grass and wild flowers.

Several trees have taken root in this long straight mound.

The footpath goes between two mounds.

No mounds here, just a nice place to break for lunch.  This is River Bend Park in Horicon, Wisconsin.

Of course, no placed named "River Bend" would be complete without a river.

For more information on Lizard Mound Park, go to Wisconsin Historical Markers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

House GOP Leader Loses In Primary

Eric Cantor (R-VA), the sitting House Majority Leader, has lost to a political newcomer in his party's primary election.  Dave Brat, who is currently a professor at Randolph-Macon College, will run as the Republican nominee against Democrat Jack Trammell, who is guessed it....a professor at Randolph-Macon.  As the saying goes, you can't make this stuff up.

Read the story at USA Today, The Washington Post, Fox News and the National Journal.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Plus 70 Years

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces landed at the beaches of Normandy, starting the liberation of France and the western advance into Germany.  Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I recently visited the area, including parts of Utah and Omaha Beaches, and even the site of an artificial harbor built by the British.  There isn't much I can add, but I found a "Your Questions Answered" page at the British site D-Day Museum & Overlord Embroidery.  Here's one example:
Which Allied nations took part in the fighting?
The majority of troops who landed on the D-Day beaches were from the United Kingdom, Canada and the US. However, troops from many other countries participated in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, in all the different armed services: Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.
To learn more, click on the above link and browse around.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D-Day Paratrooper Jumps Again

On June 6, 1944, paratrooper Jim "Pee Wee" Martin jumped out of an airplane and landed at Utah Beach, during an early phrase of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.  Today, at age 93, he commemorated his feat by repeating it, but this time without any Germans shooting at him.

Read more at CBS News, Huff Post Politics and CNN.

From Smokie: Ronald Reagan Passed Away Ten Years Ago

From Smokie, one of my friends at BlogTalkRadio, at his blog Somewhere in Texas:
Ten years ago on June 5, 2004, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, died, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Reagan, who was also a well-known actor and served as governor of California, was a popular president known for restoring American confidence after the problems of the 1970s and helping to defeat communism.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some More Pictures From DC

Today I went back down to Washington to see if anything was going on with Operation American Spring.  My friend Movin Forward also showed up, but most of the organizers were not around.  As it turned out, they were moving from a camp where they were staying, somewhere outside of the District, over to another camp.  The meeting place, known as Camp Liberty, however, will stay where it is.

As a result of this situation, I got a chance to see some sights, and get some exercise.  Here are your tax dollars at work.  Near the Washington Monument, a new building is under construction.

This is the Vietnam War Memorial, with a good number of visitors.

Within the grounds of the World War II Memorial, this ensemble of young singers was performing.

Here's a "look down the Mall" shot from near Camp Liberty, showing the Washington Monument and at left, the Smithsonian "Castle".

This is the large fountain in front of Union Station.

Also in front of Union Station is this bell, which is similar to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Son Of Notorious Abortionist Meets The 2nd Amendment

Via The Daily Caller:

Barron Alexander, son of recently convicted abortionist Kermit Gosnell, tried to burglarize a row house in the Philadelphia suburb of Mantua.  In the process, he woke two of the residents, one of whom had a gun.  To make a long story short, Alexander, who had changed his last name from Gosnell, is now in critical but stable condition.

Read the full story at CBS Philly.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

More Movin Pictures From OAS

My friend who is calls himself Movin Forward took some more pictures of Operation American Spring, mostly from this past weekend.  It looks like some signs were again mounted onto frames made of PVC pipes.

Movin himself again poses in front of a sign.

This patriotic pooch had to take a break.

The Great American Revolt brought their bus, which included an "anonymous" mask symbol.

This woman, perhaps representing Lady Liberty, stood on top of the Great American Revolt bus.

This man came from Prince George County, Maryland.

Movin stands with another patriot.

A group of participants gets ready to move out.  The young man on the left looks on with curiosity.

This group looks like they're returning from a march, as they walk eastward back to Camp Liberty.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ann B. Davis 1926-2014

Ann B. Davis, known to the world as the housekeeper Alice on the TV sitcom The Brady Bunch, died this morning after hitting her head in a fall, in a bathroom in her home in Texas.  She reportedly suffered a subdural hematoma, and did not regain consciousness.  According to Page Six:
Davis lived with another couple and was described by one of her roommates as “pretty healthy for an 88-year old woman.”
Davis was born in Schenectady, New York and graduated from the University of Michigan.  Before becoming the Brady family's housekeeper, she had risen to fame in 1955 for her role as Charmaine “Schultzy” Schultz on The Bob Cummings Show, which ran until 1959.  She later played the roll of gym teacher Miss Wilson on The John Forsythe Show, which lasted only a year starting in 1965.  Besides playing the role of Alice from 1969-1974, when The Brady Bunch was originally broadcast, Davis reprised the role for later TV movies and spin-offs.

Read the story at TMZ, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap and the above-mentioned Page Six.