Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
NPR news analyst Daniel Schorr has passed away:
Daniel Schorr, a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate, has died. He was 93.
Schorr, who once described himself as a "living history book," passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. He was able to bring to contemporary news commentary a deep sense of how governmental institutions and players operate, as well as the perspective gained from decades of watching history upfront.
"He could compare presidents from Eisenhower on through, and that gave him historical context for things," said Donald A. Ritchie, Senate historian and author of a book about the Washington press corps. "He had lived it, he had worked it and he had absorbed it. That added a layer to his broadcasting that was hard for somebody his junior to match."
Schorr's 20-year career as a foreign correspondent began in 1946. After serving in U.S. Army intelligence during World War II, he began writing from Western Europe for the Christian Science Monitor and later The New York Times, witnessing postwar reconstruction, the Marshall Plan and the creation of the NATO alliance.
Schorr joined CBS News in 1953 as one of "Murrow's boys," the celebrated news team put together by Edward R. Murrow. He reopened the network's Moscow bureau, which had been shuttered by Joseph Stalin in 1947. Ten years later, Schorr scored an exclusive broadcast interview with Nikita Khrushchev, the U.S.S.R. Communist Party chief — the first-ever with a Soviet leader. Schorr was barred from the U.S.S.R. later that year after repeatedly defying Soviet censors.
He covered the building of the Berlin Wall as CBS bureau chief for Germany and Western Europe. In 1962, he aired a celebrated portrait of citizens living under Communist rule in East Germany.
He was reassigned to Washington in 1966. Other reporters in the bureau were already covering major institutions such as Congress or the State Department, so Schorr assigned himself to cover the implementation of President Johnson's Great Society programs.
"No one had such a beat," recalled his bureau colleague Roger Mudd. "He was everywhere. He had almost carte blanche to cover Washington."
David Broder, a longtime political reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, added: "I think he's unique in the sense that he's been at the center of so many different stories, both here in Washington and overseas, for so long. He kept his perspective so well and does not ever exaggerate what's taking place, but really let you know why it's important."
Becoming Part Of The Story
Schorr was surprised to find himself on the so-called Enemies List that had been drawn up by Richard Nixon's White House when he read it on the air. The list — naming hundreds of political opponents, entertainers and publications considered hostile to the administration — became the basis for one of the charges of impeachment against Nixon.
Schorr, along with some other members of the list, counted his inclusion on it as his greatest achievement.
Schorr won Emmys in each of the Watergate years of 1972, 1973 and 1974. Over the course of his long career, he was honored with numerous other decorations and awards, including a Peabody for "a lifetime of uncompromising reporting of the highest integrity." Schorr was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists.
"He was sophisticated about the government and how it works," Mudd said. "He was a damned vacuum cleaner, is what he was."
(much more at the link)
I enjoyed his Saturday commentaries on the current news because of his unique historical perspective. He'll be missed.
This may be the strangest beer news I've ever read:
The End of History, made by BrewDog of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, is 55% and £500 a bottle.
The bottles have been made using seven dead stoats, four squirrels and a hare, said to be roadkill.
However, Advocates for Animals and Alcohol Focus Scotland both condemned the marketing.
BrewDog claims the beer is the world's strongest and most expensive.
Its co-founder James Watt said: "We want to show people there is an alternative to monolithic corporate beers, introduce them to a completely new approach to beer and elevate the status of beer in our culture."
At 55%, it's even stronger than "Tactical Nuclear Penguin", but really; bottles covered in roadkill? That just seems too weird.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad used inferior explosives to avoid detection, New York's police commissioner said Tuesday, helping to explain why an international bomb plot ended up a dud.
Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking to the Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank, discussed his department's concerns about the changing threats of terrorism....
"He tried to lessen the explosive nature of the fertilizer that was used because he thought he would get a higher profile as he went to buy it," Mr. Kelly told reporters, adding that Mr. Shahzad "sort of dumbed that down."
Mr. Shahzad also used M-88 fireworks that were much weaker than other alternatives, Mr. Kelly said.
... Mr. Shahzad was apparently so worried about [legal] tripwires that he deliberately built a weaker, less effective bomb....
Truly, it is much more difficult to get serious explosive ingredients than it was back when I was building big fireworks in my youth. Yes, a determined terrorist can still figure out ways to construct a significant device, but the amateurs (of any political stripe) can't just build a major explosive "off the shelf" without drawing scrutiny.
And that is a good thing.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
One of the things that I noted in the wake of last month's Schultz fire was the risk of flooding during the monsoon season. Which is exactly what is happening now:
A cloudburst over the San Francisco Peaks fell on the area burned last month in the 15,000-acre Schultz fire, moving boulders into roads and pushing sheds across yards.
Residents said the approaching water and ash sounded like an avalanche, a jet engine, or a loud truck as it came off the mountains into Timberline, flooding some homes and leaving many others with mostly mud in the yard.
Sadly, a 12 year old girl was swept to her death in the floodwaters:
Shaelyn Wilson, 12, died Tuesday afternoon after falling into a flooded wash south of the old White Vulcan pumice mine near her neighborhood.
She had been watching the floodwaters with her sister after the thunderstorm.
I'll avoid commenting on the lack of wisdom of watching a flood from close proximity, except to say "you really shouldn't do it!"
Speaking of 'lack of wisdom', the ban on campfires in the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests is being lifted, effective today. While we've had some nice rain, the fire danger is still way too high to start allowing campfires. Unless you have a way to insure that the persons who start them are not idiots.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.
At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: "The Eagle has landed."
At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module's ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be "that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.
"Buzz" Aldrin joined him on the moon's surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind."
I wonder if younger people appreciate how incredible it was at the time.