September 2, 2014

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Bill Beard
Summer reading program is ‘Frolicking in the Forest’ PDF Print E-mail

By Susan Carson
Virginia Happenings
Don't forget that the Virginia Public Library's Summer Reading Program is underway. Each Wednesday afternoon from 2 to 3:30 p.m. they are hosting a good time full of reading, crafts, games, treats and prizes. The first week is June 18, "Frolicking in the Forest" and week 2, June 25 is Down on the Farm; Moo! Oink! Neigh! Let's Pin the Tail on the Donkey and have fun making sheep.

More Good Rules For Life PDF Print E-mail

It’s only January 2nd, but how many of your New Year resolutions are already broken? Well, cheer up! Here are more good rules for life from Charles J. Sykes, “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.”
Rule 26: A moral compass does not come as standard equipment. People do not always naturally know right from wrong, and your feelings are not a reliable guide to moral and ethical conduct. H. L. Mencken once described conscience as “the-mother-law whose visit never ends.”

Some Good Rules For Life PDF Print E-mail

With New Year resolutions fast approaching, I’ve finished reading a most useful book, Charles J. Sykes, “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.” These rules aren’t entirely for school kids as yours truly falls short on a number of “rules.”
On January 31, 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation at the memorial service after the space shuttle Challenger disaster. He reminded us that: “All human progress is a struggle against the odds. We learned again that this America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice…. We think back to the pioneers of an earlier century, and the sturdy souls who took their families and their belongings and set out into the frontier of the American West. Often, they met with terrible hardship. Along the Oregon Trail you can still see the grave markers of those who fell on the way. But grief only steeled them to the journey ahead.”

Geneva Deal with Iran – Another Munich? PDF Print E-mail

The United States has led negotiations since 2003 to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran, whose Muslim theocratic leaders have advocated an anti-Western concept of world order for 35 years, would have profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East. In 2003 came the revelation Iran had been secretly constructing a uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy-water reactor at Arak. As former secretaries of state Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Schultz state in a December 8 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, “The heart of the problem is Iran’s construction of a massive nuclear infrastructure and stockpile of enriched uranium far out of proportion to any plausible civilian energy production rationale.”

Illinois Pension Reform – or Rip-off? PDF Print E-mail

Pensions are on the way out. Over a half-century of workers receiving adequate wages, cost effective health care, and pensions is nearing its end. It appears the vast majority of Americans have no voice, as unions decline, supplanted by corporate wealth and power, as state and federal government have become minions to corporate hegemony. Illinois Senate president John Cullerton, whose caucus is dependent on union dollars, must have downed a mickey of truth serum when he told WGN radio on October 20 that the state’s massive public employee pension debt ($100B) and nation’s lowest credit rating is not a “crisis,” but instead “an issue being pushed by business backed groups seeking lower income taxes at the expense of retiree benefits.” For example, see tax cuts/incentives for corporations to remain in Illinois – ADM, OfficeMax, Univar….

Was JFK a Conservative? PDF Print E-mail

We are honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of a president – the fourth assassinated. Most age six or above remember where they were shortly after 12:30 p.m. central time on November 22, 1963. I was in fifth grade at Chandlerville Grade School, that magnificent old three-story red brick building straight out of Norman Rockwell. We had returned to our seats after lunch and recess when our substitute teacher, Arlene Stone, entered crying. Being the class clown, I remarked that lunch wasn’t that bad. She paid no attention. After composing herself, she said the president had been shot. The superintendent, T.O. McCullough, soon sent all students home.

Hispanics in the Civil War: Conclusion PDF Print E-mail

Hispanics serving on both sides participated in some of the bitterest fighting of the Civil War as Texas, critical to the Confederacy as its primary source of food supplies and ports for cotton export, represented a civil war within a civil war. Tejano (Hispanic Texans) fought Tejano and they faced particularly complex choices as to where to place their loyalties. Slavery, being relatively scarce, played less of a role in these decisions. Many from the northern frontier of Mexico were proponents of Mexican Federalism, a belief in regional autonomy that coincided with the states’ rights policies of the Confederacy. Others, having engaged in frequent clashes with U.S. troops stationed on the post-Mexican War border, welcomed the removal of those forces from the region. Wealthy Tejano ranchers mirrored their Creole counterparts in Louisiana and were linked to the Confederate leaders of Texas by marriage, politics, and shared economic interests. Santos Benavides, a member of a wealthy Laredo family, represented these Tejanos. He served as a colonel in the Confederate army.

Hispanics in the Civil War, Part 3 PDF Print E-mail

Hispanics in the western states and territories faced difficult choices in choosing sides when the Civil War broke out. The Mexican government had banned slavery and only “a few enslaved African Americans lived in the arid lands of west Texas and New Mexico. Many Hispanics opposed the idea of bringing the institution into their homeland and endorsed Union efforts to prevent it. Nevertheless, owners of crop lands in New Mexico – a group that included some wealthy Hispanics and Anglo Americans – often relied on the coerced labor of American Indians and shared some of the views of their slave-holding counterparts in the South. Other Hispanics harbored bitter feelings toward the U.S. government as a result of the Mexican War and demonstrated their disapproval by supporting the Confederacy. The political influence, trade connections, and geographic proximity of the South also drew many Hispanic ranchers and farmers closer to the movement to secede from the Union.

Hispanics in the Civil War: Part 2 PDF Print E-mail

Sailors: North and South
Hispanics fought with valor in the navies of both sides as some of the most dramatic fighting of the Civil War occurred on the high seas. Dozens of Hispanic sailors served on Confederate ships attempting to “run” the Union blockade of southern ports. Capt. Michael Usina was one of the of the most daring Confederate Navy officers. Born to Spanish parents in St. Augustine, Florida, Usina began the war as a private in the 8th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. He joined the Confederate Navy after suffering serious wounds in the war’s first battle at Manassas. As “captain of a blockade runner, Usina made several harrowing escapes, always managing to avoid capture on his many successful missions” to supply the southern cause with food and war material.

Hispanics in the Civil War: Part 1 PDF Print E-mail

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” So the Civil War’s most famous Hispanic, Rear Admiral and fleet commander David Farragut, shouted through a trumpet from his flagship after one of his ships struck a tethered naval mine, known as torpedoes, and sank during his greatest victory – the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. The son of a Spanish father, a Minorcan immigrant from the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and an American mother, Farragut, raised in Tennessee and New Orleans, began his naval career at the age of nine. He served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and was 60 when the Civil War erupted in April 1861. Though he lived in Virginia at the time, he remained loyal to the Union. Farragut won fame for commanding the successful naval expedition against New Orleans, which reestablished Union access to the Mississippi River Valley. The U.S. Navy rewarded Farragut with the newly established rank of vice admiral. His success in taking Mobile Bay, the Confederacy’s last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico, led to his being promoted to full admiral on July 25, 1866, a rank the Navy again created especially for this national hero.


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