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Items filtered by date: Friday, 16 June 2017
Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:38

Freedom Requires Constant Vigilance

There has been nothing more glorious, no advancement more lauded, no cause more worthy, no struggle more just, than the American experiment in self-government and individual liberty.
Since the dawn of time, man has been nothing more than a pawn of forces greater than himself. Then, a mere two centuries ago, a band of men gathered together and conceived the idea that the power of government should be used not to control men but to protect them from the forces of tyranny.
At a small town in Massachusetts, that idea was put into action as American farmers took up arms against the king's soldiers and declared that they would no longer be subjects, but free individuals with a say in their own destiny.
Since the first American death in that War of Independence, more than a million men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep alive the idea that individuals are more important than the state.
Generations of Americans have sacrificed sons and daughters in the great struggle of freedom. As we try to impress upon you on these pages, freedom requires constant vigilance against those who would oppress us.
Since the "shot heard round the world" was fired 227 years ago, millions of men and women have answered the call to defend America's homeland and the idea of freedom. Many came home in body bags or were buried on foreign soil.
Unfortunately, many of those soldiers were killed in wars that were not entirely popular, necessary or just. Our nation's history is riddled with debates on whether a particular war should have been fought.
World War II would seem to have been a just war if ever there was one. Still, isolationists felt we should not be involved in what they considered mainly a European or Asian conflict.
The common thread in all these wars is that Americans answered the call to duty. They performed, for the most part, with honor, courage and integrity.
Those are the traits that must endure to ensure that our system of limited government-- of the people, by the people and for the people-- shall never perish from the Earth.
With all that is happening in the world these days, I am reminded that Memorial day is not just about picnics or the beginning of summer. It is about remembering and  honoring the men and women who have served, or are serving today, admirably and bravely. I am reminded to do so, not only on a  holiday, but to be grateful to those men and women .... every day!
We hope you all enjoyed  your three-day weekend, but we remind you to never lose sight of why you had the opportunity to spend time with your friends and family.
For every hero we know about, there are thousands more who gave generously of themselves. We owe them our gratitude -- and our continuing vigilance to protect the  freedom some of us take for granted.
Remember that the freedom for you to read this newspaper or to have a cookout in your back yard stems from sacrifices made by others, and remember.... every day is Memorial Day.
Published in Outdoor
Saturday, 17 June 2017 15:15

Reform Nation's Air-Traffic Control

Over the past week, Americans have heard considerable blowback over President Donald Trump's proposal to privatize the nation's air-traffic control system. Trump's plan would put the system under a nonprofit board rather than the Federal Aviation Administration and -- as Trump puts it -- speed the modernization of "an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn't work.
And almost everyone who knows what they're talking about is already on board with change.
That includes most of the nation's airports and the powerful airline industry association. It also, surprisingly, includes the airline pilots association and air-traffic controllers union -- despite the fact that modernization will almost certainly reduce the number of human beings required to keep American aviation safe and secure.
Why? Because the situation is dire. The number of planes in the sky keeps growing, and the stress on the nation's airports with it. Yet the nation's current air-traffic control system still relies on antiquated World War II-era radar and radio communications. The trade group for America's airlines estimates that flight delays due to antiquated equipment cost the nation roughly $12 billion a year.
As other nations modernize, this country's forward progress has been strangled by bureaucracy and short-sighted budget shenanigans. Putting the system under a nonprofit board could cut through much of that red tape. And the United States has plenty of experience to follow -- more than 50 nations including Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Australia have already shifted their air-traffic control systems at least partially away from government.
The path to adopting the so-called "NextGen" air-traffic control system isn't simple. Planes must be outfitted with the latest equipment; new systems must be installed at the nation's airports; and controllers and pilots will have to be retrained. Flipping the switch to a satellite-based system has serious implications for smaller airlines and private pilots.
Rolling out NextGen would mean a more responsive, accurate system that allows more planes to be stacked more closely together and fly more direct routes, reducing fuel costs and flight times, and allowing for more efficient use of existing runways.
Among the serious critics of Trump's plan are those who say the United States is already making adequate progress toward implementing NextGen. They also worry about the structure of the new nonprofit's board, which would almost certainly include heavy airline representation. Airlines aren't exactly popular or trusted in the United States.
Those concerns can, and should, be carefully addressed in any legislation setting up the new system -- and knowledgeable critics should weigh in with their suggestions and concerns. But clinging to the old system won't work, and Trump is right to kick off his infrastructure-building agenda by reaching for the sky.
Published in National
Friday, 16 June 2017 21:38

Happy Father's Day & The History Of

Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 , Yes... March 19 (St. Joseph's Day) since the Middle Ages.  Father's Day is now celebrated worldwide to recognize the contribution that fathers and father figures make to the lives of their children. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Mother's Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day.  
The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official–that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.
Origins: After Anna Jarvis' successful promotion of Mother's Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a "Father's Day" was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father, when in December 1907 explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 362 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested that her pastor Robert Thomas Webb honor all those fathers, it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.
The next year, a Spokane, Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.
President Wilson in 1916 honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.
Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.”
However, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers upped their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.
When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.
In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.  
In the United States Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June.  Typically, families gather to celebrate the father figures in their lives.
Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts. 
While I’m sure that’s good for the economy, I still prefer to get something hand made.
Al DiPasquale
Published in Lifestyle

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