September 1, 2014

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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.

Was JFK a Conservative?

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.

McClure receives a piece of aviation history

With the end of World War II, interest in Russell and Francis Halligan’s planes began to wane.
Meanwhile, young Milton McClure’s father, Milton McClure Sr., returned home from military service. In 1948, the senior McClure, a Republican, was elected Cass County state’s attorney in a stunning upset over Democrat incumbent Chuck Colburn.

Hispanics in the Civil War: Conclusion

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.

Beardstown’s Halligans take flight

When Francis and Russell Halligan set out to build their plane, they did it all by the seats of their pants.

Hispanics in the Civil War, Part 3

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.

‘With solemn pride in heroism’

From New York and Chicago to Cass County communities, Americans went wild with celebration with the November 11, 1918 armistice that marked the end of the Great War.
The end of this most brutal of wars was reason for celebration, and rightly so. Nonetheless, President Woodrow Wilson wanted Americans to remember the tragedy of war.