August 1, 2014

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Illinois builds a magnificent Capitol

It proved easier to select Springfield as the capital city than build a suitable Capitol building.
Architect John F. Rague, who moved to Springfield in 1831, designed the new Capitol and directed its construction. This building would become the crowning achievement of his career.

 
More Good Rules For Life

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.”

 
From Kaskaskia to Springfield via Vandalia

When Illinois was admitted to the Union on Dec. 3, 1818, a small frontier settlement on the Mississippi River became the first capital city.
It was the French who settled Kaskaskia in 1703. It then passed to the British, who fortified the place. George Rogers Clark and his intrepid Virginia militiamen captured Kaskaskia in 1778. Clark immediately declared Illinois to be a county of Virginia with Kaskaskia as the seat of government. The name “Kaskaskia” was taken from the American Indian tribe which had been the principal member of the Illinois confederation.

 
Some Good Rules For Life

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.”

 
When it comes to ice, we’re tops

All but the newest arrivals to Central Illinois are certain this region receives more than its fair share of tough winter weather. And they are right.
When it comes to ice, Central Illinois is second to none. That’s what the scientists at the Prairie Research Institute of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) discovered.
“Central Illinois has the distinction of being in the nation’s primary area for severe freezing rain (ice) storms,” the ISWS stated. Of course, this is not something the tourism, real estate or chamber crowd care to acknowledge let alone brag about.

 
Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

This is a story about faith, love, beauty and romance.
In 1897, little Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the following letter to the New York Sun:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Pap says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
Virginia’s letter was given to Francis P. Church, a childless editor who wrote the following magical editorial response to Virginia’s letter.

 
Geneva Deal with Iran – Another Munich?

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?

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….

 
Printed in lipstick: ‘I killed her’

After an evening of bar hopping, the Army veteran and prostitute entered the Park Hotel at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, 1946.
Ivan DeSilva and Lucille Riff registered as “Mr. and Mrs. I.V. DeSilva” and were given the key to room 14 on the second floor. Riff, a prostitute, had been banned from the Park Hotel by owner Emma Fosgate, but night clerk Dan Fitzgerald was new and did not recognize her.

 
A war veteran’s path to murder

Ivan DeSilva did not exactly fit the image of a killer, but as Beardstown residents would discover on Jan. 21, 1946, looks can be deceiving.
The 21-year-old DeSilva was of slender build, weighed about 150 pounds and had piercing grayish eyes. A world War II combat veteran with a good record, DeSilva was taken prisoner in Luxembourg during which time he suffered frozen feet. He was hospitalized for a time following his return to the United States and then was honorably discharged from the Army in August of 1945.

 
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